'GRAN SAVED US FROM DYING OF HUNGER'
"I DON'T know what would happen to these children if I were to die tomorrow."
This is the worry of Gladys Khumalo, 60, a neighbour and a pillar of strength for two orphans, Sinenhlanhla Mncube, 20, and Nokubonga Mncube, 17.
Their parents died in 1999 and 2004. Their 15-year-old cousin, Nokukhanya Mncube lives with them in Blaauwbosch near Newcastle.
"Were it not for gogo Khumalo we would have died of hunger," Sinenhlanhl said.
She said her older brother Sicelo applied for a foster care grant, which they received until September last year, but it was then discontinued.
"I don't know why this was stopped. This affected me so badly that I failed matric."
Both their brothers have left Newcastle to look for work.
"Things are really hard. Though gogo gives us something, she is also unemployed and relies on her children who are doing part-time jobs to feed her," said Sinenhlanhla.
"When she does not have anything, we go to bed hungry."
She said in May she went to the Madadeni social development offices to apply for foster care grants.
Social workers promised to come to their home to assess their plight, but they never did, she said.
"Our councillor, Nobelungu Mathews, had to intervene and personally took me there. That was the only time the social workers visited us," she said.
Khumalo said: "I have been taking care of these orphans since their mother died in 2004 and I am worried about what will happen to them if I were to die tomorrow."
Mathews said: "I am worried about the state of affairs. I have tried to help but in vain.
"My worry is that they are girls and live by themselves, making them vulnerable. I hope social development or business people can help them."
Social development spokesperson Mandla Ngema said the department would investigate the girls' plight and resolve the matter.