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Mentally ill man left alone after mom’s death

LIMPOPO – The plight of a 27-year-old mentally and physically handicapped man from Mpheni village, outside Louis Trichard is growing increasingly worse as nobody is looking after him and a loan shark retains possession of his social grant card.

Tshilidzi Nematahe (27) has been left to fend for himself after his mother, who took out a loan on his social grant card, died of malaria two weeks ago.

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

Lucy Ramuhashi, his mother, died after spending about four days in Elim Hospital with malaria. A family friend was looking after Nematahe while his mother was admitted. But after she was buried about a week ago, he has been left at home alone under the care of relatives who, according to the neighbours, do not look after him on a full-time basis.

It was discovered during Ramuhashi’s funeral that Nematahe’s identity document and SASSA card had been given over to a local money lender (mashonisa). Nematahe’s plight was first brought to light by his neighbours, who felt that he was being ill-treated by his mother when she was still alive. She used to leave him at home alone, unattended and dirty.

Health-e News last year reported that Nematahe’s SASSA card was withheld by a local money lender after his mother had borrowed an undisclosed amount of money.

Denied healthcare

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

“It pains me even today to see him (Nematahe) roaming the streets with no one who is taking proper care of him. He does not even know that his mother has died as his brain does not function properly. If you ask him where his mother is, he will tell you that she went to work,” said a concerned neighbour, who first alerted the authorities about Nematahe’s situation a year ago.

It was discovered during Ramuhashi’s funeral that Nematahe’s identity document and SASSA card had been given over to a local money lender (mashonisa). Nematahe’s plight was first brought to light by his neighbours, who felt that he was being ill-treated by his mother when she was still alive. She used to leave him at home alone, unattended and dirty.

Before she died Ramuhashi said she did not see any reason to take her son to the hospital or clinic, as she did not believe there was any need for him to take any medication as he was perfectly healthy.

The Department of Social Development in the province tried to intervene last year, but only visited the family once and found no one at home. They took no further action.

When contacted for comment, Department spokesperson Joel Seabi promised to forward the information to the relevant people who will be able to intervene and help Nematahe.

“We have done our part by alerting relevant people, but no one seems to be prepared to come and help him. But we keep on hoping that one day someone will come and rescue the poor man,” said the neighbour.

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