Plan to help surviving spouses

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A unique initiative aimed at alleviating the burden of widows and widowers will be launched on Saturday on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

The initiative known as the IIembe District Widows Forum will be launched at Shaka's Kraal.

The initiative offers people who have lost their spouses the opportunity to share their experiences with others.

The launch will be preceded by a seminar today, at which single parents will share their experiences.

Nxumalo Mngadi, manager of corporate services at the Ilembe District Municipality, said the council wanted to use the seminar to help change the belief that women who lose their spouses should wear a mourning gown for a year.

"The issue of the mourning gown exposes widows to abuse, robbery and rape as it gives the impression that they have a lot of insurance money," said Mngadi.

"Many girl-children are forced into prostitution after the deaths of their parents and these are some of the things that need to be looked into ."

Speakers at the seminar include women priests and senior local government leaders.

Innocent Nxumalo, 42, said when his wife died in 2003, she left him with the burden of raising their three kids

He said since the death of his wife, he had been struggling to look after the children.

Nxumalo said as a man, he was finding it difficult to look after his first-born, an 18-year-old girl.

"She is a grown up and I can't cope. I can't guide her because I can't communicate with her freely. I have to speak to her grandmother and a female neighbour to help me communicate better with her," said Nxumalo.

He said he had to wash clothes and iron for his two young children whenever his daughter was away from home.

Nxumalo said social workers needed to help single parents to deal with such challenges, adding that being a single parent was a mammoth task.

This, he said, could be achieved through seminars.