COVID-19 has opened the window on poverty and hardship even wider. The outbreak has exposed inequalities in many countries around the world.
Locally, at Msogwaba near KaNyamazane in Mpumalanga, the Mokoena family, a family of 32 shares a four-roomed house. Social distancing is a luxury this family doesn’t have.
53-year-old Joyce Mokoena has 8 children, 18 grandchildren, and lives with her late sister’s children.
The family depends on social grants of some of the children. Only two family members are employed.
With not enough space there can be no social distancing and without beds, many are forced to sleep on the floor.
Joyce Mokoena says the situation is bad and people laugh at them. “People laugh at us when we go and harvest wild spinach. The situation is really bad. It’s difficult to sleep. Life is not nice at all. We can’t fix the house. I’m unemployed and I can’t look for a job as I have to take care of two of my children that have mental illness.”
The family depends on the children’s social grants.
Mokoena’s daughter, Joana Nkosi, says she works as a domestic worker. The 36-year-old dropped out of school as her family couldn’t afford school fees after the death of their father.
“I only got a job last year in August as a domestic worker so I can help my mother because she’s not working and there many of us here at home.”
In the video below, Joyce Mokoena opens up about poverty and hardships under the COVID-19 lockdown:
To make things worse, 15-year-old Scelo Nkosi has brain cancer. He says he experiences excruciating headaches.
“I get excruciating headaches to the point that I can’t do anything, even when I’m at school. It has affected my eyesight. I can only see with one eye properly.”
The family’s beacon of hope is 18-year-old Grey Nkosi. He is a first-year student studying Civil Engineering. He says he has no funding.
“Since I started at TVET I didn’t get any funds and my landlord wants rent every month. I can’t give the amounts sometimes my food runs out. I hope I’ll be done with my studies so I can help my mother so she can relax.”
The family has applied for RDP houses, but it’s likely to be a long wait. – Additional reporting by Mthobisi Mkhaliphi