Observer on Saturday - - News - Sto­ries by Ackel Zwane

Apri­mary school­boy dropped out of school and now looks af­ter cat­tle to raise fees de­spite that some phi­lan­thropist al­legedly do­nated USD35 000 to see him through school and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion. The former Sid­loko Pri­mary prin­ci­pal, Ja­cob Mashaba says it is all mad­ness that he could not have been ac­count­able for such a huge amount of money, all he re­mem­bers is that he mis­placed a cheque of a pal­try USD135.

Now Ma­tobhi Mahlalela says she had to ‘do­nate’ her child to a stranger on the South African side of the Lom­a­hasha bor­der fence just to be able to raise enough money for him to re­turn to school, he heads cat­tle af­ter school.

It all started when a church group­ing dis­trib­uted sealed gifts to the chil­dren over four years ago and her son, Zweli Mt­set­fwa, was the lucky one who re­ceived a cheque in the for­eign cur­rency. She says other chil­dren got cloth­ing, dolls while oth­ers re­ceived wash­ing kits, a fact Mashaba does not dis­pute. She says she took it to other vil­lagers where she worked to in­ter­pret the piece of pa­per and she was told that it was writ­ten USD 35 000 but that it was ad­dressed to the school and there­fore the old woman should take it there for de­posit and pro­cess­ing.

She says time elapsed and she was hav­ing dif­fi­culty get­ting feed­back from the prin­ci­pal and it was then that she re­ported the mat­ter to the Lom­a­hasha po­lice. For sev­eral months, says Ma­tobhi, the prin­ci­pal kept telling po­lice that he had mis­placed the cheque and was still look­ing for it.

“We could not take up the mat­ter with the new prin­ci­pal be­cause we felt he would tell us he knew noth­ing about it. We also had no records in pos­ses­sion that it was re­ceived by the school.” Ma­tobhi adds that a Dlamini fe­male of­fi­cer now trans­ferred to Siteki, was of as­sis­tance since she had been fol­low­ing the mat­ter since it was re­ported over four years ago. “We are des­ti­tute par­ents, his father fell off a scaf­fold­ing and is dis­abled while I’m also sickly and liv­ing with an­other man who is not his father. I hoped the money would see the child through ed­u­ca­tion and he would in turn look af­ter us.” The boy’s sib­ling is also be­ing taken care of by a dis­abled old woman who lost both her legs and through the dis­abil­ity grants she is able to keep fires burn­ing.

On the other hand Ma­tobhi earns E200 per month where she works on ir­reg­u­lar in­ter­vals at one of the agen­cies near the bor­der.

I WANT MY MONEY: Ma­tobhi Mahlalela will not rest un­til she gets jus­tice for what she be­lieves was a ma­jor turn­around for her child when he got a USD35 000 cheque from benev­o­lent donors that later dis­ap­peared.

(Pics: Ackel Zwane)

FU­TURE LEAD­ERS: Sid­loko Pri­mary School chil­dren headed to their re­spec­tive homes.

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