Blind woman and mentally challenged grandson abandoned by authorities

No help from Home Affairs, Social Development or Health

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Photo of woman and child
Nonkululeko Wayiza with her grandson. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Nonkululelo Wayiza, 60, is blind. She looks after her mentally challenged eight-year-old grandchild who does not attend school or go to the clinic because he has no clinic card or birth certificate. No-one in authority is helping her.

Wayiza, who lives in East London’s Fynbos temporary shelters, says she has tried everything she can think of to get a birth certificate and clinic card.

She says her grandson K (name withheld), is an aggressive child, who often gets sick and starts burning clothes, or throwing stones at people including her. His mother left him when he was one month old, without a clinic card or birth certificate. His father, Wayiza’s son, has also left the child and is not in touch with Wayiza.

Wayiza said when she first started looking after K, she was still working as a domestic worker and still had her sight.

“I raised him,” she said. But now, she says, she is old.

She lost sight in one eye when K was two years old. By then she had already started trying to get documents for the child. She lost sight in the other eye after K hit her with a stone, she says.

“At our local clinic they used to help us when my grandson was still young. They would send me to the police station to do an affidavit first. But now they have stopped, they are demanding a clinic card or at least a birth certificate,” she said.

“I have been at Social Development offices in East London so many times. I visited Home Affairs several times. Even the police know us because I always go there to do affidavits.”

“All I want is for my grandson to go to school, and get his medication and to find a safe home for him before I die,” said Wayiza.

“I might die any day and I don’t want to leave him in this temporary house.”

She said sometimes K slept outside for days and because she is blind she struggled to look for him.

GroundUp first visited the family last November.

We contacted Eastern Cape region Home Affairs spokesperson Gcinile Mabulu, who said the Wayiza should approach the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development and find a social worker to conduct investigation to verify her circumstances and submit a report to a magistrate who would issue an order to Home Affairs to issue the child a birth certificate.

So we contacted the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development spokesperson Gcobani Maswana, who promised to send a team to investigate.

We also contacted Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, who also promised that a team would be sent.

In December we contacted Wayiza to find out if a social worker or nurse had visited her. She said no-one had come.

On 9 January we contacted Maswana again to ask why social workers had not been sent to visit the family. His response was that he had asked someone else to follow up the matter. He promised to get back to us but he did not.

GroundUp visited the family again on 21 January. On our arrival, Wayiza told us that two nurses had come to her house and had told her to wash K and take him to the clinic.

“As you can see, I’m struggling to wash him because I cannot see. And today he is very aggressive. He demands to go to school because all the other kids are at school,” said Wayiza.

She said social workers had not visited her and she did not know what to do.

Speaking to GroundUp, a very shy K said he wanted to go to school like other children and become a lawyer and support his grandmother.

He said he liked beautiful clothes and his aunt used to buy him clothes before she lost her job.

When we contacted Maswana again, he said he was in a meeting but would follow up the case.

TOPICS:  Disability Rights Government

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