Young boy stares at passerby's from his one roomed home he shares with 6 siblings and parents
~ Pelane Phakgadi
"We are nothing to our politicians."
So says Thomas Mukwevho, 47, from Vyeboom outside Vuwani, Limpopo, who has accused the government of forgetting about him until the election bandwagon rolls into town.
The unemployed father of seven says politicians have used his situation and those of others living in poverty, to garner votes, but have never intended to help them.
"Come elections, they even know how hard it is to drive [to our] village and even relate to how depressing it is to live with your seven children and wife in a one-room house."
The family of nine live and sleep in a tiny one-roomed home.
"I am not employed, I am overlooked by councillors in the provision of houses, and only survive on grants for five of my kids," said Mukwevho.
His 37-year-old wife, Tshifiwa Mbedzi, says her children sometimes go to bed with empty stomachs, or only eat porridge with "morogo" (African spinach).
"We have to buy water to survive and the little money we have, we can't afford to constantly buy water," she added.
Upon entering their home, the cramp living quarters feels claustrophobic. Piles of old clothes are packed together on the floor as make-shift mattresses for the children, with an old, disused fridge used as storage for their cooking utensils.
On the other side of the room, next to a tiny window, is a mattress where the parents sleep with the youngest two children.
Mukhwevho showed News24 his rickety front door, precariously perched on its hinges, which offers scant privacy or safety for the family.
Mbedzi, says that all she wants is for the government to realise that there are people who continue to live in poverty.
"I have my ID, I have voted before, but I don’t know what I am voting for because I have always been poor and remain poor," she says weeping, as her husband comforts her.
When News24 visited the home later that evening, the family sat huddled around a fire outside their home. They were cooking peanuts, which would serve as their dinner.
Community activist Nsovo Sambo says he was moved to action, after discovering that such poverty exists in his community. He has now begun asking some members of the village to assist the Mukwevho family.
"It is tough because there is no one who the family depends on and it is now the duty of the rest of the community to assist where they can," says Sambo.
"They have to buy water almost daily and surely if they have no funds, then they have nothing to cook with or at least bathe the children, so government must really step in to assist," he said.
Mukwevho hopes that government will soon address the challenges he faces everyday.
In nearby Vuwani, the Makhado Demarcation Task Team has called on residents not to vote on election day, as they continue their fight to be moved from the Collins Chabane municipality back to within the Makhado council area, as they believe they will receive better services there.