Gran feeds 17 mouths
Widowed mom relies on R1,480 and handouts
LUCY Manya spends most her time scavenging in dustbins to feed the 17 mouths dependent on her.
Manya, 68, of Pimville, Soweto, goes to Maponya Mall most evenings with her older grandchildren to scavenge in dustbins for food when their donations run out.
"Everyone is dependent on me. It was better when some of them used to work.
"When the food runs out, we ask from neighbours but I would rather pick up food that's thrown away, wash it thoroughly and cook it," said Manya.
Living with her in their three-room RDP home are five of Manya's children and 11 grandchildren aged between less than a year and 20 years.
The family's biggest challenge is their three surnames. In fact, two are the same but are spelt differently. The third is Manya's maiden name which she decided to use, hoping it would resolve the problem.
"The spelling of my deceased husband's surname is different from mine and the children's.
"Whenever I try to fix this, officials refer to my husband's details, which don't match with ours."
As a result of the confusion, only Manya and three of her grandchildren receive government grants, while some of her adult dependants do not have ID books.
Home Affairs official Benjamin Khoza said they were aware of the confusion and would visit the family to help them with the surname and ID books.
Manya started having to dig for food in 2010 when she lost her ID book and could not get her pension grant for six months.
To make ends meet she would clean toilets, recycle plastic bottles and papers and sell whatever useful thing she picked up.
Of the five adult children, one limps, the other is mentally ill and another is epileptic.
However, Manya said the epileptic child was declared dead by Home Affairs.
The other two are unemployed.
Manya's five other children have died.
Of her 11 grandchildren, eight go to school.
Fortunately, the family gets 30.4 units of free prepaid electricity every first day of the month.
The household survives on only R1,480 per month.
Manya admits that the worst days are when the school-going children have an outing.
"When there are school trips, I lose my mind because sometimes I cannot provide."
The Department of Social Development's Solly Ndweni said they would send social workers to assess and identify the family's needs.
"We still struggle but it's not like before. People give us clothes and blankets more often," said Manya.
One of Manya's wishes is to get her house fixed.