Paralysed man no longer ‘invisible’ after recent blaze at Jika Joe

2019-12-13 13:20
Thandi Home orphanage owner Rene Morcom with Jika Joe fire victim Zamani Mbanjwa.

Thandi Home orphanage owner Rene Morcom with Jika Joe fire victim Zamani Mbanjwa.

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A local woman who visited the Jika Joe residents who were displaced after a shack fire at the weekend was outraged to come across a man who was injured in the blaze and had been sent away from hospital without sufficient treatment.

Rene Morcom, who owns the Thandi Home orphanage with her husband Mark, told The Witness that after hearing about the Jika Joe fire on Saturday night, she and her family visited the area to offer help to the displaced families.

She said while they were dishing up meals for the people who were being sheltered at the community hall on Boom Street, she noticed a man, Zamani Mbanjwa (27), who was lying helplessly on the floor inside the hall.

After speaking to him, Morcom learnt that Mbanjwa, who is paralysed and uses a wheelchair to get around, was in fact injured in the shack fire.

This was despite news reports that no one had been injured.

Speaking to The Witness by phone Mbanjwa said he was sleeping in his rented shack when he suddenly felt hot.

“I woke up and realised that the shack was on fire and that the sock on my left foot was burning.

“I started crawling out and the other community members came to help me,” he said.

Mbanjwa said an ambulance took him to Northdale Hospital where his burnt foot was treated.

He said the nurses commented about him having septic sores on his body but did not treat him for that, instead, they bandaged his foot and sent him on his way.

“Before staying at Jika Joe I was struggling. I used to sleep on the street and that’s why I have these sores.

“I have gone to the clinic and the hospital for this but they send me from one line to another and sometimes tell me to come back tomorrow,” he said.

Mbanjwa said after being treated for his burnt foot on Saturday night, he waited at the hospital for the sun to rise then wheeled himself back to Jika Joe in his wheelchair, then to the community Hall where the Morcom family found him.

Morcom said what infuriated her was that when acting KZN premier Ravi Pillay visited Jika Joe after the fire he had said there were no injuries.

“He is forgotten by everyone. He is an invisible man and because he is disabled no one cares about him,” said Morcom.

After calling the government officials who had visited Jika Joe and telling them that Mbanjwa was injured, Morcom put pressure on them and managed to get Northdale Hospital to admit and treat Mbanjwa for the sores on his body.

“Zamini is now our family member. My husband and I are committed to helping him however we can,” said Morcom.

Zamani also said he was grateful to them for helping him.

“I don’t have any family, so they have been like my family because they visit me at hospital every day,” said Zamani.

Morcom said Thandi House was still donating care packages and food for the displaced Jika Joe people.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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