Parents of sick children plead for help
THE unemployed parents of two wheelchair-bound children are desperately looking for help.
Nowelile Dotwana, 36, and her husband Ndobi Dotwana, 67, have been trying for years to get to the bottom of a mystery illness that has affected siblings Siphosethu Dotwana, 18, and Akhona Dotwana, 16.
"These children were born normal. Siphosethu started the sickness at age seven when he was in Grade 1 and his sister didn't even attend school. She was five," their distressed mother said.
"Both suddenly became unable to walk because their legs were weak. It started with Siphosethu and a few months later Akhona followed. I took them to hospital, but the doctors found nothing."
Nowelile lives with her husband and six children in the TB informal settlement Khayelitsha.
She has lost hope that Siphosethu and Akhona will ever walk again.
"We tried everything in our power; sending them to hospitals, but there's no improvement. Instead, they are getting worse. Now they are becoming mentally disabled because they have also become epileptic."
Ndobi said the children were first referred to the Frontier Hospital in Queenstown before they were advised to go to Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
"We had no choice but to go. We had to ask our relatives for a place to stay," she said.
"Their legs are stiff and thin. And Siphosethu is developing a big lump at the back."
Ndobi said they were waiting for test results.
"We took blood tests together with them and doctors also cut a piece of flesh off their thighs to examine their illness."
The family crammed into a small shack with only two windows.
Ndobi said: "We don't even have our own place because this shack we are living in now was given to us by a relative.
"I sleep on the couch with two children and my wife sleeps on the floor with the other children. They (Siphosethu and Akhona) sleep on the bed and we have to look after them because they cry all the time because of the pain."
Their mother added: "I wish I could get them a decent house because they need enough space to move around. We can't even take them out because there is no space. We have to put them on our backs when we take them to the car on the road."
She said the money she received for their grants is used up before month end.
"Their nappies cost about R800 a month and I have to pay R400 for transport to the hospital. And we also depend on it to buying food and clothes."
Community leader Unathi Mabengwana said: "We wish they could get a house because their shack is in bad state. It's leaking and water comes from underground when it rains.
"Also, if there is fire who will take them (Siphosethu and Akhona) out? They will die."