‘We eat sleep for supper’ - distraught father who can't feed family

Living in poverty is extremely difficult and may lead to mental illness. Photo: Pexels

Living in poverty is extremely difficult and may lead to mental illness. Photo: Pexels

Published Oct 19, 2023


As the food prices continue to shoot up, impoverished South African are feeling the burn far more than those who are relatively privileged.

For a family of four in Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu Natal, this cost-of-living crisis has not only devastated them financially but also lowered their quality of life.

The patriarch of the house, *Theodore (34) is a welder who was retrenched at the height of Covid-19 pandemic.

He has not worked since. Theodore told IOL that he blames himself for his family’s circumstances.

“As a man, I was taught that one of my primary goals in life was to provide for my family. But, without worth, I might as well be worthless. It’s hard to watch my wife and children suffer while I sit and watch.

Food has become so expensive that we had to cut down on meals so that we can be able to buy other things for the kids such as school uniforms and stationery,” he said.

He and his wife, *Nompilo (34) have a pair of eight-year-old twin boys.

“Most of the time, they eat their first meal of the day at school. When they come back, they have pap with some soup.

This is not life; each day is a struggle.

“We try to keep the children happy but that is impossible when they don’t have the latest toys or TV to entertain them like their classmates,” Nompilo said.

She added that she gets semi-regular jobs doing laundry for people in the area and is the sole provider for the family.

“I think my husband has given up which is really discouraging. He drinks with his friends and comes back to sleep. I fear for his mental health as he is not the same person he was before he lost his job.”

Theodore explained that he drinks to forget that the family has to eat sleep for supper for most nights. He said this has affected his family dynamic as he is irritable most of the time and has become less patient with his family.

“He just takes off to the tavern whenever we must have serious conversations. It is not his fault that he lost his job, I know, but I feel like a single mother because he does not spend as much time with us or play with the kids,” Nompilo said.

*Names changed for privacy.

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