POLITE Maphorisa, 22, outside his tent at Pretoria West Rugby Stadium.     Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
POLITE Maphorisa, 22, outside his tent at Pretoria West Rugby Stadium. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19: Disabled man at Pretoria West Rugby Stadium upbeat despite lockdown

By Sakhile Ndlazi Time of article published Apr 3, 2020

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Pretoria - While many homeless people complained about the food, sanitary and ablution facilities in their temporary shelter at Pretoria West Rugby Stadium, Polite Maphorisa said he was on unpaid vacation.

The wheelchair-bound Zimbabwean national said while most complained about the living conditions, he decided to be positive with what was being provided to them.

“For some of us life has been tough on the streets. Sometimes I go to bed without a single meal. So, here I am guaranteed at least two meals a day.

“Some people take that for granted. We also have a safe place to sleep while being guarded by police,” he said.

The 22-year-old said he could finally relax during the lockdown and not worry about waking up early to go and beg at intersections. He said at times he had to go as far as Menlyn. He lives at Salvokop.

Maphorisa said sometimes he got caught in the rain. “At times motorists are nasty to me, swear at me or look at me with disgust,” he said.

At Salvokop, he said he slept on benches with about 20 people in a shared shelter. But at the stadium, he shares a tent with two other people and they slept on mattresses.

He contracted polio as an infant and has never walked. He dropped out of school in Grade 7. It was not a school for children with special needs, and thus things were difficult for him.

He then left his Polokwane home in 2008, aged 11, to seek out his own path because he “no longer wanted to be restricted”.

He admitted there were things the government could do to improve conditions at the shelter, but the pros definitely outweighed the cons.

“I think some people here are just acting spoilt and have a sense of entitlement. Government is really trying.”

Maphorisa was visibly happy when acting Social Development MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited this week to provide dignity packs consisting of toiletries.

During the day Maphorisa spends time getting to know fellow homeless people and acts as football commentator.

He modified his wheelchair by welding it together with parts of a bicycle and turned it into a decent ride.

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's #Coronavirus trend page.
** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za

Pretoria News

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