107-year-old Soweto man to spend another Xmas without his family

2015-12-11 15:28
Twoboy Legawegawe, 107, sitting under a shade at the Soweto Old Age Home in Jabavu during a Christmas party hosted by Gauteng Premier David Makhura. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Twoboy Legawegawe, 107, sitting under a shade at the Soweto Old Age Home in Jabavu during a Christmas party hosted by Gauteng Premier David Makhura. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg - One of Soweto's oldest residents, Twoboy Legawegawe, has spent so many years away from his family in Botswana that he doubts they know that he is still alive and kicking.

Legawegawe is 107 years old and has been living at the Soweto Old Age Home in White City, Jabavu, for so many years that he considers it his only home.

"This is the only home I know. I have nowhere else to call home."

Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited the home to shower the elders with gifts and to throw them a Christmas party, as part of the Ntirisano programme.

When Makhura handed Legawegawe a warm blanket and a some presents, the oldest resident at the home lifted his arms from his wheelchair's armrests, touched Makhura's arm and gave him a heartfelt thank you.

"May the lord be with you," he told Makhura.

The hall was filled with Gauteng's elderly, who had all been admitted to the home because they had either been abused or neglected.

The Soweto Old Age Home was established in 1988 and houses a maximum of 122 men and women. It was currently housing 117.

Ntwanano Ntuli, who works as a social worker at the home, said most patients were either brought in by family members, police officers or social workers from the Department of Social Development.

"We also have mkhulus who are abused by their children. One is here because he is afraid of his son, he cannot go home. He promised to kill him, so [he stays here]."

"The society that gogos and mkhulus are living in is very harsh, so we try by all means to provide any kind of care that they are looking for. They do feel at home, it's homely, they are so free here."

In Legawegawe's case, he was brought to the home by concerned neighbours.

'I no longer hope for my family to come for me'

His wife had died and he lived alone in his home. No one cared for him and they were not sure whether he was even eating on a daily basis.

Legawegawe was born in Kanye, Botswana, and came to South Africa looking for work. He settled in Dobsonville, Gauteng where he was working as a miner. All his children had been born and raised in Botswana, he said.

He cannot recall the last time he saw his family, but says it was many, many years ago.

"My family only know that I am living in Gauteng, they don't know where I am. I have no family here.

"I haven't seen or heard from them in so many years, they also don't know whether I am still alive because I don't write to them."

Legawegawe, who was born in 1908, says when he was no longer able to travel alone, he sent a message to his family to send for someone who would travel back to Botswana with him.

"They refused and said I should bring myself home, and so I never went back."

He has since made Jabavu his home.

"I'm just fine here. They clean me and feed me, and when I die they will bury me here. That's all I need. I no longer hope for my family to come for me. I don't want to bother people."

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