Children go hungry after losing their mom, Josina Thema, to 2023 cholera outbreak

They found her dead in her room

Josina Thema’s death affected her kids severely.
Josina Thema’s death affected her kids severely.

When 26-year-old Lucas Thema's mother was still alive, he and his two siblings never went to bed hungry. Although their mother Josina was unemployed, she always found ways of putting food on the table. 

However, last year May Josina became one of the 28 people who were wiped out by cholera that broke out in Hammanskraal. 

What particularly traumatises Thema is that Josina suffered greatly in days leading to her death. 

When she started falling ill, she was taken to a clinic where her condition improved after being put on a drip. That gave the family hope. However, worse was to come. 

"After returning from Temba Clinic, she seemed a bit better, but soon she couldn't walk or do much of anything. 

“She started getting worse again, vomiting and complaining of stomach pains. On the day she died, she had a running stomach too." 

Recounting the night she died, Thema said: "It was late at night, and I was sleeping when my aunt and my little sister woke me up. They were panicking, saying mom was struggling to breathe.  

“By the time I reached her room, she had already passed away." 

Since Josina’s death, her children have suffered greatly as she is no longer there to make ends meet. They usually go to bed hungry. 

The family couldn’t even afford to pay some of her funeral expenses and relied solely on donations from extended family members and friends.  The family now relies on the child support grants meant for Josina’s two younger children, with additional help from social workers who provide food parcels.  

These parcels contain maize meal, teabags, sugar, canned fish, baked beans and soap. 

Click here for more stories on the Hammanskraal cholera outbreak.
Click here for more stories on the Hammanskraal cholera outbreak.

However, they do not consistently receive the parcels and are constantly anxious about where their next meal will come from. 

"Some days are hard to even put a plate of food on the table. This then leads to my siblings going to school on a hungry stomach. But I am trying so hard to find a job.”  

“Sometimes, I get piece jobs and I earn a mere R20, which is only enough to buy a loaf of bread. It makes me feel like I'm failing as a guardian."  

Thema hopes to get a permanent job so that he can take care of his siblings. 

"It's tough, especially since my siblings are girls. They sometimes find it hard to talk about what they're going through; sometimes they just lock themselves in their room." 

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