In honour of my brother

By Drum Digital
08 August 2014

Akona Zibonti buried her brother in July after he battled with drug addiction for many years. She shares her moving story

As a child, my brother Lungelo Macozoma was always independent – he would go out and do things for himself rather than ask anyone for anything. Soft spoken, Nqaba (Castle), as we called him, never fought with anyone at school. Even when bullies wanted to beat him up he always found a way to dodge them.

We lived in a household that tried to kill our spirits and forced us to believe that we will never be anything in life but Lungelo always seemed to rise above whatever was dished at us. Growing up in an abusive household he seemed fine until we moved to Joburg with an aunt and cousins.

By age 12 he was skipping school and would often not sleep at home. He became more reckless and rebellious – he clearly wasn’t the same Lungelo we grew up with and, as a result of his behaviour and weight loss, we suspected he was using drugs. Little did we know that it was the highly addictive and dangerous nyaope.

In a situation like this you would think that the family would rally together and come up with a solution to help but not one person did – not even our mother but how could she? She was also addicted to alcohol and dagga. One day when Lungelo was 14 they even smoked together.

About a year later his drug use had escalated so much that he weighed about 30 kilograms. At the time I thought only the grave would save him from this self-mutilation but even at his lowest points I never lost hope that he would get better.

In fact, I remember being grateful when he contracted TB. It may sound harsh but I had prayed for God to do something and He did. I had hoped that the illness would serve as a wake-up call; I wanted him to realise that he was killing himself. And it seems that he did. . .

One day he called me and told me that he would never touch the drug again. He also said he wanted to stop living the life of umalundi (street child or homeless person) and he wanted to go back home to the Eastern Cape. There he decided to go back to school but because it was already mid-year, he struggled to get in.

However, one of his teachers, Mr Erasmus, believed in him and helped him. Slowly he started becoming the brother I loved and knew. He was doing well at school and in life, which is why we were shocked when we heard that he had died.

He drowned in a river in the Eastern Cape, even though he could swim. His death has left us with many questions. He may have experienced many troubles in his short life but those who knew him loved him because he was a hustler who wanted only the best for himself.

He never held grudges and taught me a valuable lesson: be yourself and always work hard for what you want, regardless of the obstacles. His strength and resilience will always inspire me. He may be gone, but he’s definitely not forgotten. He is, and always will be, my brother.

By Akona Zibonti

Find Love!