Tshimologo Semenya was only three years old when he died from cholera in last year

A year later, the family is still battling to come to terms with his sudden death

Herman Moloi & Antonio Muchave Reporter & Photo Journalist
Tshimologo Semenya
Tshimologo Semenya

Tshimologo Semenya was only three years old when he died from cholera which erupted in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, in May last year. 

A year later his family still battles to come to terms with his sudden passing.

Tshimologo, the youngest of the 28 victims who died of the waterborne disease in the area, was rushed to hospital one morning in May, but the toddler was only attended to about 12 hours later, according to his mother Dimakatso Semenya. 

By then, it was already too late as his condition had deteriorated. A year later, his mother still finds it difficult to recount the events of that fateful day. 

With tears in her eyes and her voice trembling, she said: "It was Saturday evening when he first said he was sick. “By the next morning, his eyes had changed. 

“They were white, and he was vomiting and soiling himself. I felt so powerless, watching him suffer and not being able to do anything."  

She and her sister rushed little Tshimologo to nearby Jubilee Hospital. "We arrived at around 8am,” she recalls, "and even though I told security that my baby was sick, they said we had to wait in line like everyone else.  

Dimakatso Semenya.
Dimakatso Semenya.

According to Semenya, they were only attended to around 8pm. 

“The place was crowded. It took hours before a doctor finally saw us, but by then, and when they finally attended us, they couldn't find his vitals. 

A second doctor came to look at Tshimologo and found the vitals but they were very weak. Later, he was declared dead. 

Semenya could not afford to bury Tshimologo and was assisted by donation from Tshwane mayor’s office while food parcels from Gift of the Givers helped feed the mourners. 

Following Tshimologo’s death, Semenya was so engulfed by grief that she started seeing a therapist. 

Despite her profound grief, Semenya decided against continuing with counselling, claiming that "it brings more pain than solace".  

"I used to go to counselling, but it just kept bringing back that entire trauma. I've decided to counsel myself; it’s the only way I can cope. 

"My baby was a full human being; he was active and ready to explore the world. I was so looking forward to taking him to preschool. Now, whenever I see other children, I think of him and what could have been." 

What hurts Semenya is that the dreams she had for Tshimologo will remain unfulfilled.  However, she has decided to study further so she can get a job and assist her domestic worker mother who takes care of her and her sister. 

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