Triple jeopardy for father, sons

2016-03-31 06:00
Phathilizwe Kumkati, 76, and his son Nkosinathi Kumkati, 37, are living a hard life after their mobility was affected, in Khayelitsha.  PHOTOS: mBONGISENI maseko

Phathilizwe Kumkati, 76, and his son Nkosinathi Kumkati, 37, are living a hard life after their mobility was affected, in Khayelitsha. PHOTOS: mBONGISENI maseko

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Life has taken a difficult turn for a father and his two sons since different circumstances forced them to be wheelchair bound.

Phathilizwe Kumkati, 76, and his sons Nkosinathi, 37, and Simphiwe, 26, were able bodied individuals until fate decided differently.

It has taken chronic illnesses, and a car accident to render them incapable of walking on their own.

The elder Kumkati was diagnosed with diabetes which resulted in both legs being amputated below the knees in 2010.

Nkosinathi developed an illness which weakened his nervous system, and led to paralysis of the legs just as he was finishing grade 12.

The younger Simphiwe suffered seven broken bones on his left side after his car collided with another car in Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape in 2013.

His car was driven by his friend whom he hired to drive him as he did not have a drivers licence.

He was a teacher at the time of the accident which left him dependent on a wheelchair for mobility.

He taught at Mlotsana Primary School in Mthatha, before he moved in the city to be closer to Tygerberg Hospital where he undergoes treatment.

Kumkati said their day-to-day life has become a struggle as they had to adapt to their difficult conditions.

“I was given artificial legs, but I cannot use them now, because they are so heavy for me. Moving around on a wheelchair is also a problem for me because my hands are not strong enough to drive it. Life is hard for us. At times I have to cook for us and also do washing when my daughter (Kwanele) is not here. I also clean the house. I would be better if we could get someone to fix the electronic wheelchair for us,” he said.

The electronically wheelchair was donated to Nkosinathi by some Good Samaritans as part of Mandela Day about three years ago.

The family had since been sharing one manual wheelchair to go around after that one broke down.

They were lucky enough to receive a donation of another manual wheelchair which was made available by Monde Nqulwana, South African Communist Party (SACP) District Chairperson, Mayibuye Branch in Khayelitsha, on Monday.

Nkosinathi, who spends most of his time lying on bed, described his condition as “depressing.”

“I had a laptop that was keeping me busy which had programmes designed for my condition, but someone came in the house and stole it. The computer had Dragon (Speech Recognition software) programmes and games. I also did a course in Web Design Code in that computer. My life is depressing now. I wish to get a laptop with those programmes,” Nkosinathi said.

“Our life has changed now after we got the wheelchair, because we had to share one wheelchair.

The accident changed my dreams in a way that I did not expect. I was working, but now I am wheelchair bound.

Nqulwana said this donation was part of their programme known as “know your neighbour and act”. It encourages their members to know about residents who are need in their areas.

“As leaders we must have an eye to the residents who have special needs, because they are also part of the community.

We say the government must have positions advertised specifically for those who are disabled so they will not have to compete with those who are not disabled for employment. Look at Simphiwe, he has qualifications, but he is sitting at home, because he is now disabled. It must be depressing for him,”

He also said there is a lot that still needs to be done to help those who have special needs in communities such as building community halls to be user friendly to those who have special needs.

Kumkati’s yard also needs to be paved so it will be easier for them to push their wheelchair around.

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