Sick Zimbabweans in KZN need help

2009-01-14 00:00

THE district leadership of the Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the province is concerned by the plight of Zimbabwean nationals who fall ill or die far from home without any access to financial or humanitarian assistance.

MDC district chairman Temba Chiborise says the situation is becoming dire. “We buried four people in Azalea cemetery [in Edendale] last year out of necessity,” he told The Witness. “The cost of transporting bodies across the border is in the region of R15 000, which is well beyond the means of most refugees. We need to make provision for our people.”

Chiborise told a meeting of the MDC district executive at the weekend that because the MDC is a “government in exile”, it is incumbent upon its leadership to help Zimbabweans in South Africa, many of whom are living in crowded and unhealthy conditions, which raises the chances of their falling ill.

Chiborise said the organisation ideally needs the services of someone who can access existing aid networks and co-ordinate assistance efforts for Zimbabweans in the Pietermaritzburg area.

Among those currently needing such help is 36-year-old Zimbabwean Charles Banda, who is lying in Northdale Hospital despite having been officially discharged on December 9.

But Banda, who can neither sit up nor walk and requires full-time care, has no place to go.

A painter from Kwekwe in the Zimbabwe Midlands province who fled to SA a couple of years ago to find work in order to support a host of dependants, including his wife and three children, Banda was admitted to Northdale hospital on November 24 with a case of bacterial meningitis.

Banda’s wife Teresa, who joined her husband in Pietermaritzburg last May, is working as a live-in domestic worker in the suburbs and is required by her employers to stay alone. She visits Banda daily and feeds him. Banda’s compatriot and childhood friend, Texas Jiji, is looking after the couple’s three-year-old daughter.

The situation is now becoming urgent, with the hospital apparently insisting that it needs Banda’s bed for other patients. “The priority is to find suitable accommodation and care for him, whether this is back home or here,” says Teresa.

Banda’s associates in the MDC have collected about R1 500 in donations from fellow refugees, but more assistance is urgently needed. To help, contact Texas Jiji at 072 760 5652 or Temba Chiborise at

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