News24 readers embody spirit of ubuntu in 2015

2015-12-25 09:22
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Durban – Touched by the plight of their fellow South Africans who suffered loss or found themselves in difficult situations this year, many News24 readers came to their aid. Here are a few examples their selflessness.

On March 4, Philisiwe Zungu, 7, was stabbed 40 times, disembowelled, and had her throat slit. Her father allegedly sent men to her home in Nsuze, near Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal, to kill her. They locked her family in a rondavel and took her away and murdered her.

Her mother, Mbali Zungu, told the Independent on Saturday earlier this month that she had no idea of the motive. Philisiwe’s father, Thokozani Ngidi, hanged himself in police custody in November.

Simosakhe Ngcobo said Ngidi had hired him to commit the murder. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in jail.

Philisiwe’s grave, on the side of a hill behind the rondavel, was in poor condition. The family said they could not afford a headstone. They had placed thorn tree branches on top of the grave to prevent dogs and other animals from digging it up.

Readers committed to building a proper tombstone for Philisiwe.

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In May, News24 met a five-year-old North West boy born with a rare birth defect called epispadias, in which the urethra does not fully develop. This meant he had to pass urine from an opening in his groin with an implanted tube.

He has had to undergo several operations. In June, Nomfundo Molefe, 37, sponsored his trip to see doctors in Cape Town. Molefe read his story and paid for flights and a night in a Midrand hotel for his family.

Many readers asked News24 for an account number so that they could make donations to help the boy.

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In June, News24 reported on KwaZulu-Natal mother Anesia Thompson’s struggle to get help from social services.

The 23-year-old mother described how, if she left her one-year-old son Cian unsupervised, he could suffocate. When Cian was four weeks old, he had a tube inserted into his throat to help him breathe after complications at birth.

Thompson had to resign from her job after she learned she was pregnant, putting additional strain on the already cash-strapped family.

A few months after Cian was born, Thompson applied for a care-dependency grant. The SA Social Security Agency turned her application down, saying Cian’s condition was not a permanent disability and he was not fully dependent on her.

Within a week of News24 publishing her story, she received a call from Sassa officials informing her that her grant had been approved.

In addition, readers offered to help her and her son.

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On June 5, News24 reported on a group of Krugersdorp pensioners living in the Pioneer Home. They lived between a prison, a cemetery, and a veld, and said their municipality and the local police had neglected them. The home itself needed maintenance.

Three couples living in the council-owned complex said they felt like sitting ducks for criminals. One couple said their car was stolen from in front of the home in December.

Daniel Freitag came forward and encouraged others to join him in donating to the residents.

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On June 8, News24 reported that the Durban metro police’s dog unit desperately needed food and shampoo for its dogs, and that there was no money to pay for the K9 force’s vaccinations.

The officers had resorted to buying essential items for the dogs with their own money.

Penny Stein from Sandton, Johannesburg, read the story on Facebook and, with a group of friends, donated food and other necessities to the unit.

“I was so shocked and outraged when I saw the story and that’s why I felt like I had to do something about it. My motto in life is, ‘don’t just think it, do it’, so we will be sending shampoo, food, blankets and toys for the dogs,” she said.

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In July, News24 published a story about Beauty Mnci who turned her home in Bertrams, Johannesburg, into an aftercare centre to get children off the streets. The children come to her house every day for a plate of food.

A group of women from a Johannesburg church surprised Mnci with colourful new tables and chairs, crayons, books, and teaching charts.

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KwaZulu-Natal farmers Andrew and Rae Wartnaby allowed 139 foreigners displaced by xenophobic violence to stay on their 20 hectare Hope Farm, in Killarney Valley, in July. They were left stranded after government closed down refugee camps in and around Durban.

Organisations like Gift of the Givers, Doctors Without Borders, and Islamic Relief South Africa, provided food and other necessities.

The situation soured a few months ago when the couple tried to find the foreigners a third country. The foreigners split into two groups of 84 and 55. The larger group refused to do anything more on the farm, threatened Ray Wartnaby, and accused him of being a government agent.

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In August, 74-year-old Ntaba Mbane’s four children were killed when their bus drove off a cliff on the R408, between Butterworth and Willowvale, in the Eastern Cape. His two sons and two daughters Michael, 34, Ntombiyovuyo, 36, Siyabulela, 38, and Siphokazi, 33, were among the 35 people who died. Mbane’s 75-year-old wife Nothabile was hospitalised when she heard the news.

A 41-year-old Johannesburg mother was so moved by the tragedy that she sent the family items to help them. She and her husband agreed to send the Mbanes R500 every month for a year.

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In November, a stranger walked up to Arniston fisherman Gerald Swart, 59, and gave him R1000. His fishing boat, the Mrs H, sank while it was being used to tow a stricken vessel, the Agulhas, between Struisbaai and Witsand in October. That boat was the only source of income for Swart and his 10 crew. The Mrs H and its crew had just returned to harbour after a day at sea when Swart asked a group of fishermen to use her to rescue the Agulhas. No fisherman were hurt in the drama. 

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In November, News24 was inundated with offers to help residents of the Msawawa informal settlement near Kya Sands, where a fire destroyed over 100 shacks. Many children lost their textbooks and uniforms. One Grade 11 pupil, Shelly Mauku, said she would not be allowed to attend school without a uniform.

Faizal Aboo, who owned a small manufacturing business in Johannesburg, said he would help sponsor one of the school children at the informal settlement.

Saadiq Natha from Gift of the Givers Foundation said they had an overwhelming response from people who wanted to help, and that they had distributed more than 2000 clothing packets to those affected.

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On July 4, 2014, Jean Rose Sosibo, 50, sustained burns to her face, hands, and feet when the tyre of the minibus taxi she was in burst between Ixopo and Springville, KwaZulu-Natal. The minibus crashed and caught fire. Five people were killed.

She was rushed to Christ the King Hospital in Ixopo and transferred to Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi on July 5. She was discharged on July 9 and told to get further treatment at Christ the King Hospital.

When she arrived there, she was told the file containing her medical history had been lost. She was unable to apply for a social grant because she needed supporting medical documents.

When a South African man based in the United Kingdom read of her plight, he transferred an undisclosed amount of money into her account as an early Christmas present.

The provincial health department has yet to explain to Sosibo what happened to her medical records or how it planned to help her.

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In November, eThekwini metro police dog unit Inspector Victor Botha was called to help pensioner Doris Ryan, 84, after her home in Malvern, Durban, was broken into. He was stunned to find her and her caregiver, Phumelele Majozi, 57, living in squalor.

Ryan, who needed a walking stick to get around, could not describe the suspects. She was unable to see them because she could not lift her head. She only saw their shadows and shouted for them to get out. They had fled by the time Botha and his colleague arrived.

Botha called Jeff Verity from the Burro Community Assistance group and the men started The Doris Project to repair Ryan’s dilapidated house.  Verity posted details of her story on Facebook and Whatsapp and was overwhelmed by the response.

The Living Clean company cleaned up the house, and the Queensburgh Islamic Society tidied up the garden. Dezzo Roofing was supplying materials for the roof to be repaired, a pest control company was coming, and the house was being painted for free.

Verity said local residents came to repair and clean the house on weekends and were currently fixing the roof. Ryan’s house would be ready in January.

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