hunger is their daily bread

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The Magwaza family in Mpumuza, near Pietermaritzburg, has been described by locals as KwaZulu-Natal's real face of poverty.

The head of the family, Jabulile Hadebe-Magwaza, is disabled. All five of her children have dropped out of school because they can't afford to buy food or to pay school fees.

Their father, Mehlo Magwaza, died of TB in October last year. The family say it was better when he was alive because he made ends meet.

When a Sowetan team visited the family on Saturday, they said that the last time they had eaten was on Thursday. The meal of spinach and porridge had been provided by a neighbour.

Reporters dug into their own pockets to buy a few basic foodstuffs so the family could cook a few more meals.

Hadebe-Magwaza, 54, has been confined to her bed since 2001 after a fall that left her disabled.

"I have been bed-ridden for the past six years. The first time I got a wheelchair was two weeks ago from a girl who gave it to me," said Hadebe-Magwaza.

"When my husband died we were promised that we would get help from the company he worked for for 22 years, but we have not received a cent.

"All my children have dropped out of school. I tried to register for food parcels or a disability grant or for child support grants for two of my children, but I have received nothing and I have since given up," she said sobbing.

"Social workers have come to my house, taken my details and disappeared. One left the form with me and said I must hire a car to go to the hospital so the doctors could fill them in for me to get a disability grant, but I don't have the money," she said.

Mape Shabane, who gave the wheelchair to Hadebe-Magwaza, said she first met the family in 2006.

"I cried when I saw them. Two weeks ago I was able to find a wheelchair for Jabulile," said Shabane.

Attempts to reach the MEC for social development, Meshack Hadebe, or his spokesman, Mandla Ngema, were unsuccessful. Their phones were switched off.