Decent home for 'garden boy' at last
Virtual slave grandpa aged 72 released from cage of agony after the Sowetan exposed the old man's squalid living conditions - and he's been reunited with his brother!
IN TWO weeks' time, April 27, most South Africans will be celebrating their 18th year of freedom, but 72-year-old grandpa Elias Tshililo only tasted freedom yesterday.
Tshililo does not have an ID - this means he has never cast his vote since the dawn of democracy.
Tshililo, whose plight was highlighted by Sowetan on Wednesday, has been rescued from his squalid existence.
Before his rescue this week, Tshililo worked at a farm in Dekroon, Brits, in the North West. Because he is paralysed in both legs, he had to crawl while working as a "garden boy" at the farm.
He earned R300 a month.
His employer called him a dog and kicked him often. "I'm tired of living like a dog, I want to go back home, this is not life ... this is slavery," he said on Tuesday. Tshililo slept in a smelly, dingy room.
Speaking to Sowetan, his employer Chris Pretorius said Tshililo was old and that he could just as well go "home".
However, Tshililo had lost contact with his family "many years ago". All he knew was that he was originally from the former Venda homeland.
As fate would have it, Tshililo was this week rescued by a North West non-governmental organisation called Age in Action.
Provincial director Mary-Jane Segole said her organisation had to act immediately after reading about his plight in Sowetan.
"I could not believe it, the article made me sad and I was heartbroken. I then told my team that we are removing the old man from that farm."
The organisation also bought a wheelchair for him.
Tshililo is now staying at the Sonop Old Age Home in Brits.
Sonop nursing manager Johanna Tlhapi welcomed him with warmth: "We are familiar with such cases, we welcome him with open arms ..."
The Department of Social Development is assisting in organising an ID for him.
The Department of Labour also said it would help.
Yesterday, Tshililo was also reunited with his long-lost brother Wilson Tshililo, 59.
He was over the moon when he met his brother at Sonop for the first time in over 25 years.
"I don't know what to say," Tshililo said. "This is the happiest day of my life."
Wilson said they moved from Makhado in Venda "a long time ago" after their parents died. "Our parents died in 1977 and we were left with nothing, so we came here in North West to look for jobs."
And then their ways parted ...