I am tired of living like a dog, says 'garden boy'
HE cannot walk because he is paralysed in both legs. So he has to crawl while working as a "garden boy" at a farm in North West.
Elias Chirilo, originally from Makhado in Limpopo, says he is tired of working this way.
Chirilo, 72, wants to go back home, but his wish is being stymied by a lack of funds.
He works from Monday to Friday and earns R300 a month in Dekroon plot number 75, Sinyoko, in Brits.
He says his employer swears at him, calls him names and kicks him sometimes because he works slow.
"He calls me a dog sometimes and tells me to go to my mother, I don't know why. I have been called a dog for a long time now and I am tired of living like one, I want to go back home, this is not life, this is slavery," he said while trying to pull his body out of the bed.
Farm owner Chris Pretorius said he did not have money but he will give him what he owed him.
"I don't know why he ran to the media, he could have told me that he wants to go home, he is old and he is not working properly, I also want him to go," he said.
Pretorius also said Chirilo must stop drinking too much to save money.
"He drinks too much, all his money goes to booze, what must I do, he is like a burden to me, he does not have a family, he can go."
When asked about underpaying him, he said everyone has to start somewhere.
"He is ungrateful, I also started working earning R2,000 but I never complained, the R300 he gets is enough because he stays in my farm for free," he said.
He also denied swearing at Chirilo, who could not go to work yesterday because his legs were sore.
He lives in a small, untidy and smelly room.
Because of his walking difficulties, he uses one of the dishes as a toilet inside the room.
Chirilo says he has been living like that for 12 years.
He does not have an identity document, so he cannot receive a government pension grant. He says he has tried to apply for it but failed each time because he does not have a birth certificate.
Chirilo says in March 2000 he got a job as a "garden boy" and things were easy for him because he was fit at the time. "I was walking with both of my legs then," he says.
Later, his legs started to get swollen and cracked.
He says he had to learn to push a wheelbarrow while walking on his knees.
He wants to go back home but does not remember the address. He separated from his wife a long time ago.