Lonely, tough life of parentless kids

2012-08-27 00:00

A GRADE 7 pupil from Copesville Primary School has two roles to play — that of a child and also an adult.

Nozi Zondo (not her real name) is one of KwaZulu-Natal’s 187 225 double orphans (children without both parents), many living in child-headed households.

After school, in between homework, Zondo cooks while her brother fetches water or cleans the yard.

But she also still enjoys playing with friends.

Life leaves Nozi no choice but to grow up quickly.

She lives in a two-room house with her brother, who is himself only in Grade 8.

Their parents died when she was only 12.

“I still cry at the thought that I’m an orphan. I loved my mom and it gets lonely,” Nozi told The Witness.

She is not afraid to tell her story to anyone who cares to listen.

Hers is one of many cases in the country.

In KwaZulu-Natal alone, in 2010, the province had the highest number of double orphans (children without both parents), 187 225, followed by the Eastern Cape a distant second with 92 973, according the 2009/2010 annual surveys for ordinary schools (ASS).

The statistics showed that there were 481 739 double orphans in the country, over a million pupils without fathers and 591 865 without mothers.

“This indicates that about 17% of learners in ordinary schools in South Africa were orphans,” the ASS concluded.

Unlike her peers, Nozi is still without some of the stationery such as glue, calculator, crayons or school bag.

“My sister’s ex-boyfriend [who lives in the area] collects our social grant. But most of the time he gives us R500 instead of the whole R1 400. He keeps the rest for himself.”

Her 34-year-old sister lives in Johannesburg, and Nozi said she only visits around Christmas.

She said with the grant money, they buy a month’s groceries, comprising mealie meal, rice, sugar, powdered milk, cooking oil, a bag of potatoes and a chicken braai pack.

She said she would like to become a teacher one day.

Nozi is said by teachers to be doing well at school.

Another Grade 7 pupil whose parents died is Koko Ngongo (not his real name).

His father was killed in 2006, when he was 10 years old, and he does not remember much of his mother’s passing.

He has not had a place to stay since his older sister sold their family home back then.

But a Good Samaritan recently took him in and gave him a home.

A school teacher, Zandile Gwala, said NGOs and government departments do donate uniforms and groceries, which they distribute to the needy.

She said her school has lots of orphans.

KZN Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said there are programmes in place to assist orphans and vulnerable children such as nutrition programmes and no-fees schools.

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