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More than his fair share of hardship

By unknown | May 09, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Life has been a string of misfortune for Mpele Mafolako, a 53-year-old unemployed father of five.

Life has been a string of misfortune for Mpele Mafolako, a 53-year-old unemployed father of five.

Mafolako, of Bodibe village, in North West, has the mammoth task of looking after his mentally disabled wife, a mentally disabled son, and a son who was recently struck down by a mysterious disease.

The stomach of 19-year-old Thabo Mafolako swelled to three times its normal size after he ate at a village funeral.

Doctors were unable to diagnose the cause or help the suffering youth.

His twin brother, Thabang, was born with a mental disability.

To add to the family's woes, Thabo has been lying idle at Thusong Hospital, though he was discharged four days ago.

His poor family cannot raise the R10 return fare for a taxi to bring him home.

Yesterday, an emotional Mafolako said he carried a heavy burden on his shoulders.

"Besides looking after a dying child [Thabo], I must also keep an eye on my mentally retarded wife and on Thabang. And there are three other children to look after."

Mafolako accused the villagers of taking advantage of the mentally disabled Thabang.

"He looks after people's cattle and they pay him only R2 a day.

"But most days, instead of money, he brings atchar and vetkoeke home," he said.

The twins do not receive disability grants because their photographs were swapped when they applied for bar-coded identity documents at the local Home Affairs office.

The family has been struggling to get grants for them ever since.

Their mother does get a disability grant, but Mafolako claims that whenever he goes to withdraw the money the account is empty. He is then told someone has already withdrawn the funds, using his wife's pin code. This has been going on for a long time but the culprit is not known. Mafolako denied that he had revealed the pin code to anyone.

Yesterday, Tsietsie Shema, a ward councillor at Bodibe village, said he would help the family and make sure that the twins were issued with identity documents so that they could get their monthly disability grants.

Sowetan yesterday contacted Zakes Molala, a health department spokesman, about the Mafolakos' plight.

"We will make sure the boy is delivered to his home and we are going to help him in future if he needs medical attention," he said.


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