Cape Town - A deaf man from Gugulethu who survived a near-death experience when he was stabbed twice in the chest and arm during an armed robbery said he fears for his life.

Thembelihle Quze, 23, who recently re-integrated in society when he started working at a coffee shop in Claremont, said Saturday’s attack had made him vulnerable again. He was stabbed while walking home after visiting a friend near his home in Gugulethu NY111.

“Two men came walking towards me, I saw them talking but was not able to hear what they were saying. The one guy came up to me and demanded money. I tried to tell them I didn’t have any, but they weren’t even paying attention to me as I signed. The one guy pocketed me and then stabbed me.”

The two men fled the scene and Quze was helped by neighbours who had seen him. “I could not scream for help. I feel they targeted me because I am deaf; right now I am too scared to leave the house, I have no one to chat to,” Quze said, speaking through a sign language interpreter.

For the past seven months, Quze had been working at I Love Coffee in Claremont as a barista.

At the coffee shop, which comprise mostly deaf employees, he acquired social and life skills training which is said to have helped him interact with others.

Quze had started gym training and was also teaching clients sign language. A part of his job also included travelling to Joburg which his father, Mbuyiselo Mbali, said encouraged Quze to be more social.

“He refuses to leave the house and we, too, fear for his life. In this area, deaf people are targets. My son right now is in pain, the stitches in his chest are bleeding. This is not right,” said Mbali.

He said the incident changed his son.

Coffee shop owner, Gary Hopkins said the sweat classes at the gym had helped Quze defend himself during the robbery.

He said the coffee shop, which employs mostly deaf youth as part of its social enterprise work, hired deaf people to escape violence and to boost the employment rate. Part of the work programme includes life skills training.

“Most deaf children grow up in homes where they are overprotected. They become easy targets because they don’t have the necessary life skills.

“Thembe (his nickname), because of the gym partnership we have, has become quite an athlete. He was able to protect himself and smart enough not to carry money on him,” said Hopkins.

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Cape Argus