KZN MEC opens his heart and home to homeless graduate

2016-04-12 10:05
Sakhile Gamede, 28, who came to Durban desperately looking for a job in his field of biochemistry. (Facebook).

Sakhile Gamede, 28, who came to Durban desperately looking for a job in his field of biochemistry. (Facebook).

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Durban – Sakhile Gamede is a few days away from achieving his dream, thanks to KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

After reading about Gamede's plight in local newspaper Ilanga, Dhlomo decided to take in the homeless man, who had a qualification in biochemistry, and help find him a permanent job.

Dhlomo said, "I was really touched by his plight before I even met him."

The MEC said he met Gamede at his office last Thursday where he was shown his qualifications.

"I already had the impression that this was someone who had tried everything in life and was on the brink of giving up. I knew that if something was not done he would have ended up doing drugs.

"I also realised that a mother's love is very important for every child. I was very fortunate to have a mother until the age of 50. He tried everything to succeed even when his mother was dead."

Gamede, 28, from Steadville in Ladysmith said he grew up with his three brothers in a two-bedroom house.

When his mother died of pneumonia in 2005, Gamede was forced to take care of his siblings.

"My father remarried and left us in my grandmother's care. After matric I applied at three universities through the Central Application Office [CAO] but they did not take me."

Gamede said he decided to stay at home and took up odd jobs, including working as a car guard and security guard.

"In 2008, I worked at a car wash earning R260 a week. In 2009, I became a car guard earning R1300."

Degree in biochemistry

In 2010, with the money he had saved up, Gamede went to the University of the Free State to check whether the university had received his application.

"I stayed there for three weeks and I managed to secure funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and I studied biochemistry."

Gamede said he completed his degree in 2012 and graduated in 2013.

"No one came to my graduation. All I wanted was for someone to say 'well done' or stand up and cheer for me."

That same year his grandmother died and he was forced to drop out of his honours degree and go back home to support his brothers. "I became like a father to them."

Gamede said he knocked at countless doors asking if people needed a handyman and he was invariably turned away. He said despite applying for jobs in his field, he was also unlucky.

"I sat at home and I was very frustrated. So in January I came to Durban."

Gamede said he had taken a loan of R150 from a neighbour to pay for a taxi to Durban but he quickly realised that life in Durban was tougher than expected.

"I packed my Bible and my clothes and left. When I arrived there I lived in a shelter where I paid R29 per night and I basically became a homeless person.

"I used to go to the University of KwaZulu-Natal where I would attend conferences just to eat the food." He said he would even take leftover food away with him.

Sleeping on an empty stomach

Gamede some nights he found himself sleeping at the beachfront on an empty stomach.

"It was always cold but I had to suck it in until the morning."

He said he was a fighter and was happy that someone had heard his cries for help.

On Monday, Gamede spent his first night in Dhlomo's home.

"I am very excited and grateful to the MEC and his wife for what they have done for me. It's been an emotional journey and he is going to send food to my family."

Gamede promised to work hard in whatever job the MEC finds for him.

"As long as it's in my field of study, I believe that I will be able to grow and succeed." 

Dhlomo said, "Sometimes God speaks to you and there was something about this young man that said this is my responsibility. I will do whatever needs to be done to make a difference in his life.

"I have my own issues that I am dealing with, but I wasn’t going to sleep well knowing that he didn't have shelter or food in his stomach."

Dhlomo said he was confident he would be able to secure Gamede a job, possibly by the end of the week. 

Read more on:    durban  |  good news

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