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Impoverished mother of six’s struggle to make ends meet

Elizabeth Nonyane, pictured with her mother Nelly Nonyane, has been living in impoverished conditions for years. Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Elizabeth Nonyane, pictured with her mother Nelly Nonyane, has been living in impoverished conditions for years. Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 26, 2021


Pretoria – Tears ran down the face of a single mother of six children yesterday when she spoke of her struggles to make ends meet over the past few years.

Elizabeth Nonyane said she had been living with her children aged between 19 and 10, and with her elderly mother Nelly Nonyane since her husband died in 2014.

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Despite her husband being on the RDP house beneficiary list, they were never allocated a home, she said. Things spiralled out of control when the breadwinner died and left her dependent on social grants.

With these she had to pay rent, feed and clothe the children, and keep the lights on.

“I ended up moving back home to my mother’s house in Soshanguve,” she said.

She explained that the family gathered behind the house when it was time to eat.

For them it was important just to survive; and food such as meat was an expensive privilege. They eat vegetables with the pap.

Nonyane cried as she spoke about her ordeal, and said life had not been kind to her.

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“If I had at least been given the RDP house that my husband registered for in 2003, things would be a little bit better.”

And although she was grateful for social grants, the children’s school uniforms took all the money, she said. She said she had to “crack her skull” to come up with ideas about feeding the children, especially in these tough times worsened by the pandemic.

Her eyes were swollen and red when she said: “My heart broke when I realised how much it was going to cost me just to put a child in school this year, especially because the money I had was not even enough for a uniform. I had to accept that my children will wear old and worn tekkies to school.

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“To make matters worse, these days schools want stationery and toiletries, so the pain of being unable to do it for your children almost killed me. I cry every day because it is not that I do not want to work, but jobs are scarce and a lot of people have lost their jobs already.”

The family relied on an elderly neighbour who used to help them so that they could have a bit more food, but that woman has since died.

They try to make ends meet, but their electricity and water bills are in arrears.

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DA PR councillor Leon Kruyshaar learned about the family’s ordeal from his colleagues who work closely with the community, and yesterday asked Community and Social Development MMC Thabisile Vilakazi to accompany him to the family.

An emotional Vilakazi said she was touched and saddened by what she saw, and said she would do all she could to get the impoverished family assistance.

She said: “I have two tasks now: to check with the Department of Human Settlements about how far the RDP house application is and what is happening with that.

“However, from my side I will urgently send a social worker to do a needs analysis and see if we can have the family placed in the indigent families database so they will receive food parcels from the food bank.”

Kruyshaar said a family in such dire straits should not be stressed about water and electricity, and all they needed was access to information so they could be placed on the indigent list and start receiving 100 units of free electricity and 12 kilolitres of water.

“Fortunately, mayor Randall Williams is rolling out a programme to phase out the problem meter estimates that people have been complaining about, as they cost families like the Nonyane family a lot of money they did not have, which will not be replaced with prepared meters,” Kruyshaar said.

Nonyane welcomed the visit and the promised interventions, saying she looked forward to an improved quality of life for her children and her mother.

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Cape Times

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