Woman who lived on streets reunited with family after 40 years

Maggie Skei with her cousin, Susanna Skei, who had been living on the streets. Picture: Supplied

Maggie Skei with her cousin, Susanna Skei, who had been living on the streets. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 29, 2022


Cape Town - Every person living on the streets has a story to tell.

This is exactly the case with Susanna Skei, who was estranged from her family for 40 years.

A week ago, thanks to the dedication of the Track n Trace missing persons organisation and members of the public, Skei was reunited with her family while sitting on the roadside in Ravensmead and Bellville.

She is currently being assessed at Tygerberg Hospital and is in the care of social workers and doctors. who are determining her mental and emotional state.

Skei was just a young woman when she made the streets her home, despite the numerous efforts by her family to help her and their pleas that she come home.

Chaz Thomas of Track n Trace said finding Skei had been a team effort by different community members, including the woman’s family.

She explained that one woman had taken it upon herself to get to know Skei, and then later posted her picture on Facebook, which was the beginning of a new life for her.

“A young woman by the name of Chantal April used to drive past her every day,” explained Thomas.

“One evening she passed Susanna. It was raining, so she stopped her vehicle and asked her to get inside the car. Susanna refused. The next evening, she stopped once again where the woman used to sit and spoke with her and she showed her her identity book. It seemed to Chantal that the woman’s mind was going.

“She took a photograph of the woman and posted it on Facebook, and someone tagged me. Then I contacted Chantal and she told me where to go.

“Myself and one of our members, Vanessa, visited the woman and we took photographs of her.

“I placed a picture on Facebook and one person in Malibu contacted me and said he had gone to the address which I had shared and that the persons residing at that address did not know the woman.

“Then a man by the name of Anton Oliver who used to work with the homeless saw my post.

“He then shared the post on platforms and in groups on social media.”

Thomas said there was a breakthrough when one of Skei’s family members saw her photograph on social media.

“One of the woman’s cousins saw the post and contacted the other cousin who is in Cape Town in Kleinvlei, and that is Maggie Skei, and she got in contact with Anton.

“Anton and myself and Maggie were part of a WhatsApp group and we decided to go to the auntie on Sunday, and she is now under observation at Tygerberg Hospital.

“The social worker who attended to the case spoke with the family and they are helping us with this case.”

Maggie Skei with her cousin, Susanna Skei, who had been living on the streets. Picture: Supplied

Maggie Skei told Weekend Argus their family had been reaching out to Skei over the years, and they were at peace now that she had finally agreed to be admitted to hospital.

“She has been on the streets for over 30 years, if not 40 years, as she left home when she was just a young girl,” she said.

“At one stage, she came and stayed with us as a family, but then she was back on the streets. She was also at Die Ark home, but left there also.

“She is known by many as Wallie.”

“Our family is from the Karoo, and many of us moved to Cape Town.

“When I was contacted about her, I went with the team to where she was, hoping that she would go with me.

“She has now been admitted to hospital, where they are assessing her and seeing what the way forward is. They have been in contact with me to understand her background.

“It gives us peace of mind now, as she has always chosen the streets.”

Maggie Skei, far left, with her cousin, Susanna Skei, who had been living on the streets, together with Track n Trace workers. Picture: Supplied

Another person who had worked closely on the case and could not be identified said unfortunately protocol had to be followed: “They will need to see if she has to be on a course of medication.”

Weekend Argus

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