From cash to cake: News24 readers reach out to grant-dependent family

2017-02-22 09:28

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Cape Town – From birthday cakes to monetary donations, News24 readers dug deep to help a Cape Town family surviving solely on R1 050 a month in government grants.

Over the past two days, over R10 000 has been raised for three families featured in a series putting the spotlight on those who depend on state allowances, like the Plaatjies family in Hanover Park.

Berenice and Hilton are raising their three children Zoe, 7, Ashwin, 13, and Donique, 16 with the R350 they receive for each minor every month.

The Plaatjies family
Donique, Monique, Berenice, Zoe, Ashwin and Hilton Plaatjies of Hanover Park, who survive on monthly government grants of R1 050.
(Tammy Petersen/News24)

Their eldest daughter, Monique, 19, graduated from a special needs school in 2015, but has been unable to find work.

An overwhelmed Berenice says she never expected anyone to help her.

"Telling my story was never about money. I just wanted to give people some insight into how much we depend on this grant, as little as it may seem. It’s what we live on.

"But to get such a response. I am amazed. I only want to say thank you. For something like this to happen to us makes me so happy."

'Can't wait to cook meat'

The Plaatjies live in a council flat with 16 others and have not had a fixed income since Hilton lost his job over a year ago.

Of their monthly income, R500 is used for basic groceries and toiletries, R300 is for electricity and R120 goes towards rent.

The only treat in their home is on birthdays, when Berenice pinches off a few rands to buy a cake.

On Monday, offers streamed in to help Berenice to make her role as household minister of finance a little easier.

Individuals made donations of between R50 and R1 000. One donor said the Plaatjies’ story reminded him of his own childhood. Another offered to bake a cake for each of their children’s birthdays.

The first thing she hopes to do with the sudden windfall is to finally buy enough groceries to allow her children to eat "just like everyone else – as much as they like".

"I can’t wait to finally cook meat for them. We haven’t had that in a long time. It’s going to feel like Christmas here," she says.


Berenice Plaatjies relies on three child care grants to sustain her household. (Tammy Petersen)

Special request

Berenice hopes to fix her broken washing machine. She spends hours doing the laundry, wringing out the wet clothes by hand.

The rest will be worked with sparingly. Zoe has however put in a special request to her mother.

"I would like a doll, the one they sell at Shoprite," the little girl pleaded.

Ashwin hopes for a skateboard of his own, as a friend currently shares his with him. Donique would like an outfit bought in a shop, although she is grateful for the second-hand items she and her siblings receive from a local community organisation.

Monique has been offered employment by a company which works with people with disabilities.

- If you would like to help the Plaatjies family, CLICK HERE to do your bit.

She is happy at the opportunity and will hopefully no longer have to walk for kilometres trying to find a vacancy.

She hopes to one day work as a caregiver for the elderly after getting a taste for it during a job shadowing stint.

'Hard to find work'

While they are grateful for the outpouring of assistance from the public, this has not replaced Hilton’s hopes of finding a job.

"I want to do it for them," he says, pointing at his children.

"I need to give them some stability again, but it’s hard to find work. I know because I have been looking for over a year."

He has years of experience as an electrician, but is willing to take any job opportunity.

"All I want is a fixed income, no matter what the salary. I will jump at anything. Refusing something is not an option."

The Plaatjies family
The Plaatjies family: (From left) Donique, Hilton, Berenice and Monique. In the front are Ashwin and Zoe. (Tammy Petersen/News24)


Read more on:    cape town  |  poverty  |  grants  |  good news

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