Mhlongo lived and worked for abandoned kids
If I had just one more chance to speak to him, I would give Siyabonga Mhlongo a piece of my mind.
I would ask him why he left this world when so many people depended on him. Knowing him, he would probably laugh and say, "Yehlisa umoya mkhaya, impilo injalo."
I met him late last year. He had just won Sowetan's Community Builder of the Year award, returned home and found Rosca Children's Home in Roodepoort, Gauteng burning. He had made the house a home for 60 children.
"Hello, the kids are all fine. They managed to get out safely. I'm busy organising a place for them to sleep tonight."
I knew then that he only lived for those children. I listened to all the struggles he went through for their wellbeing. I was drawn into his life and a friendship began. He called me mkhaya.
Mhlongo was born on October 31 1976 at KwaSwayimane in rural KwaZulu-Natal. His family was poor and he could not further his studies after matric at KwaSwayimane. He took a job as a volunteer presenter at Ikhwezi community radio.
Ten years ago he left his home for Johannesburg to seek greener pastures. But the streets of Hillbrow were not friendly. When things did not work out he settled for a job at Hillbrow Clinic as a child counsellor.
There he discovered his calling as a caregiver to homeless children. He turned his bachelor flat into a soup kitchen and home to 15 children.
Eventually, through Good Samaritans and donations, Rosca was established. At the time of his death, he was caring for 68 children. He died of TB after fighting the illness for two months.
My friend, my homeboy, Lala kahle Njomane.