Sat Oct 22 07:28:36 SAST 2016

Dead woman's family sought

By unknown | Apr 14, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Dudu Busani

A 49-year-old woman from Tembisa is stuck with the body of a British woman, with no money to bury her and no idea where her relatives are.

Sharon Waites died in Tembisa Hospital two weeks ago.

Rebecca Phathakge had been taking care of her after she was discharged from Charlotte Maxenge Academic Hospital a month ago.

"She said she was originally from England and that her ex-husband and daughter now live in New Zealand. She did not talk much about her past. She had been homeless when she was admitted to hospital.

"I took her in and lived with her in my house after she had spent seven months in hospital. She was my friend; I love her and I want her to have a proper funeral," Phathakge said.

Waites did leave a phone number of a person she said was her brother. When Phathakge called him, he said he had not seen Waites in 10 years and wanted nothing to do with her. It is not clear when she arrived in South Africa.

Phathakge lives with 15 other homeless people, mainly white, in her three-bedroom house. She started taking care of the homeless and sickly in 1995 after domestic abuse had led her to attempt suicide.

"When I look at these people, I understand what they are going through. Most of them once lived comfortable lives, with husbands, wives and children. They end up like this because of lack of support and failure to pick themselves up after losing everything," she said.

When Phathakge's husband left her with three children aged under eight, in serious debt and unemployed, she decided she was going to kill herself. She went to a nearby railway line and waited for a train, but it never came. Her eldest son found her and saved her. He threatened to kill himself if she dared jump in front of a train.

"I realised that God did not want me to die, He wanted me to take care of other people who are in the same situation," she said.

Her housemates include an Afrikaans teenager she found working as a prostitute in Kempton Park.

"She was 16 when I first saw her. She was being picked up by an elderly man. I convinced her to come and live with me. She has been with me for a year now," she said.

Anyone with information on Waites' family can call 071-1474-989.


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