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Community accuse mom of neglecting disabled son

Months after authorities were alerted to the plight of a severely neglected 25 year-old handicapped man, nothing has been done to help him.

Tshilidzi Nematahe (25) was born with physical and mental disabilities and has never been to school. (Credit: Ndivhuwo Mukwevho / Health-e )

Tshilidzi Nematahe (25) of Mpheni village, near Elim Hospital in Limpopo is yet to receive any form of assistance, despite several appeals by concerned local community members to the provincial Departments of Health and Social Development.

Nematahe was born mentally disabled and his left arm and leg also do not function properly. He occasionally has fits, and has never attended school, nor has he ever been given any medication.

Intervention

Earlier this year after Health-e News reported on Nematahe’s situation, the Limpopo Department of Social Development promised to intervene and help. But months have passed and Nematahe remains left at home alone unattended during the week when his mother goes to work.

“About a month ago, after we alerted people about what is happening in that family, two social workers and a representative from the Department of Health visited them but didn’t find anyone home. They came to me and asked if I knew where the mother was, and I told them that she is at work and she only comes back at night. They promised to come back over the weekend but as far as I know, they never did,” said one of the concerned neighbours who wished to remain anonymous.

Health-e News has since learned that Nematahe’s SASSA grant card is being held by a local money lender after his mother borrowed money.

He added: “It is so painful seeing him wandering on the streets all day, or left at home alone without anyone. If I tell you that he can spend a month without even bathing, but she seems not to care at all. Something needs to be done urgently to help this boy. The fact that he is disabled does not make him less human.”

He added: “It is so painful seeing him wandering on the streets all day, or left at home alone without anyone. If I tell you that he can spend a month without even bathing, but she seems not to care at all. Something needs to be done urgently to help this boy. The fact that he is disabled does not make him less human.”

Not at home

Nematahe’s mother, Lucy Ramuhashi, previously said she does not believe that there was any need for her to take her son to the clinic as he did not need any medication. She survives on part time jobs around the Vhembe district, and therefore cannot be at home with her son during the day.

A representative from the Vhembe District offices of the Department of Health, Robert Sirwali, said: “We have visited the family twice but on both occasions, we did not find anyone there. We are now working closely with the traditional leaders of the community to make sure that we get to the bottom of all this. I can assure you that we are working towards helping the family.”

Health-e News has since learned that Nematahe’s SASSA grant card is being held by a local money lender after his mother borrowed money.

An edited version of this story was published in The Star.

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