Paralysed former mineworker pleads for assistance

SABC News wheelchair - Paralysed former mineworker pleads for assistance

Life is a daily struggle for a 51-year-old former mineworker from Coffee Bay at Mqanduli, in the Eastern Cape. Notyobha Silwana was injured and left paralysed almost a decade ago, while working in a gold mine in Johannesburg. He uses crutches and a wheelchair to move around.

The physically disabled Silwana feels the injury has stripped him of his dignity. It becomes worse in bad weather conditions. He worked in a gold mine for 20-years and he came back home, disabled. Now, he depends on his 18-year-old son to bath and feed him.

Silwana says he needs urgent intervention.

“I struggle a lot here, sometimes when it rains my crutches get wet and I slip and fall. Sometimes they get stuck in the mud. I wish I can get a toilet and a shower inside my house because I now depend on my son to bath me. My hands cannot hold the water.”

Community members sometimes reach out to Silwana. His neighbours, Thulani Hona and Nosandi Nabhuku say Silwana’s condition makes life difficult for him.

“When I see him all the time going to the toilet, he’s always struggling so I just feel bad in my heart. Therefore, we dug that toilet. It’s a temporary toilet, it’s not a perfect one but we know Mr Silwana is struggling, we just need to help him.”
“Sometimes he comes to my house and ask me to make him some tea. He can’t do anything for himself. I wish the government could help him.”
Silwana’s 18-year-old son Yanga Silwana, who looks after him says his father’s condition is also taking its toll on him.

“When I wake up, the first thing I do is prepare everything for him because there are things he cannot do. I make him something to eat and make his bed before I rush to school. When I come back I prepare supper and do his laundry. I wish someone could assist because I’m the only one looking after him and as a boy I’m struggling. I cannot even join my peers when I see them passing by our house.”

The provincial government has promised to look into the matter. Human Settlements spokesperson, Masiza Mazizi, says special provision will be made for a shower.

“The department does not provide a shower in any of a house whether it’s for people with disabilities. However, given this sad situation the MEC sent her officials to come back end ensure that a shower is provided here, even if it means she will negotiate the business to assist in this regard.”

Silwana says any assistance will improve his quality of life and help restore his dignity.

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