In another twist involving the public protector’s office‚ the Minister of Co-operative Governance an.
AS the days go by before schools in KwaZulu-Natal reopen for the third term, the Mthembu twins, born with deformed feet and hands, are holding their breath for the operation that will enable them to wear shoes.
The girls were born with seven toes on each foot and six fingers on each hand.
They have been to hospital twice already since being promised the life-changing operation that will allow them to wear shoes for the first time. Premier Zweli Mkhize, himself a doctor, made the promise. But they were turned away because of the doctors' strike.
Now Bongiwe and Bongekile, 15, of Ohlalwini in Jozini, pray that the medics will resolve their problems with the government before the school term begins.
Mkhize intervened after they begged for help in a report in Sowetan.
"We are hoping that we will be operated on before school reopens. When we were taken to hospital on two occasions we thought our prayers had been answered, but we were let down twice by striking doctors," Bongiwe said.
The twins' deformities caused them to become the laughing stock of their community. Schoolmates make degrading comments and poke fun at them because of their extra toes and fingers.
Though the girls' operation looks unlikely before school begins, Good Samaritans have stepped in with help for the poor Mthembu family.
On Monday employees of the UjimaBakwena Cooperative in Johannesburg, which specialises in school shoes, visited the girls to measure their feet for special shoes that will tide them over until their operation. They also gave them school uniforms and groceries.
Tshidi Mashego, chairperson of UjimaBakwena, said they were touched by the twins' plight.
"First we must commend Sowetan for being the eyes of those who can't see and mouth of those who can't speak. Had the newspaper not reported about them we would not have known that there are people like them who need so much help.
"Since we specialise in shoes, we will craft special shoes for them. But we will not stop there. We will also make another pair for them to wear after the operation.
"It is the least we could do. They will be getting their shoes within seven days," Mashego promised.
Bongiwe was ecstatic when she heard the news.
"I know to some people it's normal to go without shoes, but it is something else if you go barefoot because you can't wear shoes. Our heels are cracking because we have been walking barefoot since we were born," she said.
Their mother, Hlaleleni Mpontshane, said she was grateful that her children were getting help.
"God knows how much I appreciate what the people are doing. I know there are also people out there who have nothing, like us, but who pray for us," said Mpontshane.