Coping in Copesville

2011-11-01 00:00

While many South Africans are having to cut back on luxuries to survive the current economic squeeze, for some it’s the same old daily grind to survive. Fikile Ndlovu and Mandla Dlamini, both 46, are a couple who live in a tiny one-room shanty made of wood and plastic, in Shonti near Copesville.

‘We’re desperate for help,’ admits Ndlovu, who looks after her sick life partner. Both are unemployed and have no children. Ndlovu begs on the streets to get by. Originally from Bulwer, she says she was separated from her family before 1994 when there was violence in the area. Dlamini is from Pietermaritzburg and used to perform odd jobs before he got sick. They only have each other now.

‘Witness’ photographer LUCKY MAIBI spent a day with them.

Above: ‘When I go to bed, I sometimes wonder if my partner will make it to see another day,’ says Fikile Ndlovu (left). Mandla Dlamini, her partner, has been sick for the past nine months. He doesn’t know what is wrong with him and says he has seen the doctor several times.

Above: Ndlovu also suffers from occasional illnesses herself. Despite these challenges, she wakes up every day to perform her daily duties, including making a fire to keep warm, cleaning and cooking.

Above: Ndlovu makes sure that before she leaves the house, Dlamini is washed. She bathes him with plain water because they don’t have soap and uses cold water because she saves her wood for fire that she uses when cooking, later in the day.

Above: Without Ndlovu there to help him, Dlamini tries to find his way around the tiny wooden house. Too weak to walk or even stand, he leans against the door so that he doesn’t fall. ‘I can only try to walk as far as the door step, beyond that I need someone to help me,’ he says.

Above: After failing to get anything from the street vendors, Ndlovu goes to the dump in Raisethorpe to look for anything useful. ‘Sometimes vendors give me rotten vegetables, but I take them.’

Above: Despite their dire situation, the love and commitment they have for each other keep them going. They laugh as they sit outside and watch the sunset fade.

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