Orphan sisters at mercy of others
Mandisa and Zikhona Mgquba are orphans who have spent the better part of their lives suffering.
Last year they reached the pinnacle of hardship when they had to share a pair of school shoes.
Zikhona, 17, said: "I had one pair of school shoes and my sister [Mandisa, 18,] did not have any.
"I felt pity for her and decided to share my shoes with her."
One of them would go to school while the other stayed at home.
This situation continued until a Good Samaritan bought them two pairs of brand new school shoes.
Born to a poor family in Ngqamakhwe, a rural town in the Eastern Cape, the sisters were little girls when their heavily-pregnant mother, Nobantu, died in 1993, barely four years after she gave birth to them.
They experienced yet another tragedy when they lost their father, Mzimhle, seven years later.
In 2005 their aunt Nontozakhe Somphethu took Zikhona, 17, to Mdantsane near East London to live with her.
A year later Somphethu persuaded Mandisa, 18, to stay with them too.
The girls are in grade 10 at Zinzani High School in NU5.
By escaping the brutal rural life of Transkei in search of better education opportunities in the township, the girls thought they would have a brighter future.
But that was not to be as they grappled with new challenges in an unfriendly environment.
The Good Samaritan, Nontsikelelo Mgquba, (no relation), bought groceries and clothes for the girls.
Mgquba bought them a cellphone and she made sure the girls always had airtime to contact her.
"Since Sis' Ntsiki started to help us, our aunt's attitude towards us changed completely.
"She used to be furious when we received calls on the cellphone Sis' Ntsiki bought for us.
"She would tell us she was hungry and that the phone was not food," the teenagers said.
They alleged that Somphethu would cook in her bedroom and eat with the children.
"This is the same food that Sis' Ntsiki had bought for us," they said.
They said that in November Somphethu threw all their clothes out of her house and told them to go away.
Somphethu, who acknowledged chasing the girls away, said she welcomed them into her home when no one in their family wanted anything to do with them.
"No one wanted these children. I moved around looking for anyone who would donate a uniform for these girls.
"I went to several schools, but they did not want to take these children because of their poor school record," she said.
Somphethu said that the girls hated her because they believed her family had bewitched their parents.
After Somphethu threw the girls out of her house, Mgquba again came to their rescue.
Mgquba, who is renting a shack for the girls at Ramaphosa informal settlement at NU2, is appealing for government intervention.
She said that Mandisa and Zikhona are at serious risk because they stay alone in the shack and without any social security.
"These kids are vulnerable. I bought them a cellphone so that they can reach me in times of need," she said.