DISABLED KIDS SUFFERING
Reports on how children with disabilities in Daggakraal, Mpumalanga, miss out on an education because the area has no special needs school. took the pictures
CHILDREN and youth (some at least 16-years old) with disabilities in the rural Daggakraal near Volkrust in Mpumalanga, have never seen the inside of a classroom.
This is because there are no special needs schools in the area to cater for them.
Sowetan spoke to at least four families whose children suffer from different disabilities about the pain of seeing them languishing at home and not getting an education.
The worst case is that of 11-yearold Nomalungelo Madonsela who has cerebral palsy.
Her family alleged that her disability was caused by doctors’ negligence at Elsie Ballot Hospital in Amersfoort during her birth.
Madonsela’s mother, Lindiwe, alleged that she begged doctors to operate on her but they ignored her and when they attended to her the next morning, they said it was too late to operate.
“When my child was born, her whole body was navy and her neck was green,” she said.
Madonsela’s family believes that if she was attending school she could receive the right professional care and even have access to physiotherapy to help with her posture.
But instead Nomalungelo spends her days in bed because she can not even sit on a wheelchair.
“My heart bleeds for this child. I can not do anything. I have to be here to look after her. I can’t even go to church.
“We need a school here. I really believe that if she at least associated with children like her, she would develop,” said Madonsela’s grandmother, Rose Bhembe.
Lungelo Nkwanyane’s peers call him mad and do not want to play with the 16-year-old. While they go off to school he is left wandering the streets of Daggakraal.
Nkwanyane attended only one day of school when he was about eight years old.
The mother said when she went to fetch him after school, she was told by teachers that they could not cope with him and therefore could not accommodate him.
Lungelo’s mother, Zanele, said her son is intellectually-challenged, disabled, cannot use his left hand which is crooked and has poor eyesight.
“When I left him in the morning at Sizenzele [primary school] I told the teachers that I would fetch him to find out what his progress was, but to my surprise when I fetched him that afternoon they told me that he must not come back.
“They said I must keep him at home because they could not cope with him,” said Zanele.
When Sowetan visited Noluthulo Mbatha’s home, she was sitting in a shack outside her family home, talking to herself. The 14-year-old does not attend school.
Her mother’s aunt, Aletta Ndaba, started taking care of Noluthulo when she was just a baby after her mother passed away.
“We picked up that she was not well when she was about three years old. She delayed to walk and talk. When she turned eight, we took her to Sizenzele Primary.
“She was there for a year but they told us not to bring her back the following year because Sizenzele was not the right school for her,” said Ndaba.
Mbatha is intellectually disabled but Ndaba believes that she is capable of attending school “but she needs teachers who will be more patient with her”.
Ndaba, 72, said her biggest worry is what will happen to Mbatha when she passes away because she has no skills to lead an independent life.
Another parent, Pinky Shongwe, is willing to send her child to another province just so he can receive an education.
Her nine-year-old son, Siyanda, was recently diagnosed with autism. Shongwe said doctors did not initially know what was wrong with him.
Shongwe said he was born with water in his head. She said he currently has a tube in his head that runs up to his stomach which helps to drain the water. Siyanda is also epileptic.
His family believes he is smart enough and would thrive if he was in school.
“I found a special needs school for him in Vryheid, [KwaZuluNatal] they said I must bring him when he can go to the toilet on his own,” said Shongwe.
Siyanda’s grandmother, Catherine, said the family had put him in a crèche but he only attended for three weeks. They were later told that they could not cope with him.
“I would thank God if we had a school near here,” said Catherine.
There are four primary and two high schools in Daggakraal. Parents of children with disabilities who spoke to Sowetan said they would appreciate just one school that would cater for their children.
Parents did not know any special needs school in their area however the nearest one is about 100 kilometres away in Standerton.
Rose Bhembe embraces her granddaughter Nomalungelo Madonsela who suffers from cerebral palsy. Nomalungelo has been home all her life because Daggakraal has no school for special needs pupils.
Lungelo Nkwanyane playing alone in the street in Daggakraal, Mpumalanga.