LETTER: In memoriam: Saturday’s fire victim

2016-03-01 06:00

It is with great sadness to report about a fire on Saturday evening in the shack of Mama Margaret Ndewu, just opposite our Hokisa Children’s Home in Skina Road. Our two childcare workers on duty and all our teenagers (especially Kevin and Lolo) did what they could to assist in fighting the fire.

Tragically, all help came too late for Mama Margaret’s son Sibusiso Justice Ndewu (27) who was locked in his part of the shack and could not get out in time. The reason that he was locked up, was because he was mentally ill and became very restless most afternoons (getting undressed and running up and down the street).

His single mother had been to the mobile police station a few times to ask for help to get her son back into a psychiatric hospital, but the police on duty said that it was not their responsibility.

Once the door could be opened by force from outside, he was already seriously burnt. He was rushed to hospital, but died during the night.

At Hokisa, we knew Sibusiso Justice since he was a child. He attended the opening of the Hokisa home in the presence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu with other neighbourhood kids in December 2002 when he was thirteen – a photo was taken in front of our fence while playing “skipping stones” with others. He was excellent at Ukhanyo Primary School and he even received a bursary to attend a private school. Difficult circumstances later drew him into drugs as a teenager and he became not only one of the first addicts in Masi, but the drugs also affected his brain badly. The past few years he spent either in a psychiatric hospital or at home. Our efforts at Hokisa to allow him to join training at the Tutu Youth Centre two years ago failed.

Our heartfelt condolences go to his mother Margaret and all family members and neighbours.

Dr Lutz van Dijk, Hokisa Masiphumelele

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