Police 'bloody marvellous' says Malvern pensioner

2015-12-17 18:00
Doris Ryan, 84, who was taken in by a metro police officer after he responded to a house breaking call at her home. (Amanda Khoza, News4)

Doris Ryan, 84, who was taken in by a metro police officer after he responded to a house breaking call at her home. (Amanda Khoza, News4)

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Durban – A call pensioner Doris Ryan made to police to report a housebreaking set in motion a chain of events that would touch her and her community in the most unexpected way. 

When Inspector Victor Botha from the metro police dog unit and his partner responded to the call in Malvern, Durban, four weeks ago, he was stunned to find the 84-year-old and her caregiver, Phumelele Majozi, 57, living in squalor.

He said Ryan, who needed a walking stick to get around, could not describe the suspects. She had been unable to see them because she could not lift her head. She only saw their shadows and shouted for them to get out. They had fled by the time the officers arrived.

"In the 22 years I have been an officer, I have never been touched by a case like this one," Botha said.

The grass had not been cut, the roots of the trees were causing the walls to crack, and the roof was collapsing.

"It broke my heart and I told her I would try and assist. She told me she had lived there for 40 years, had no children and had never married."

Botha called Jeff Verity from the Burro Community Assistance group and the men started The Doris Project, to repair her dilapidated house.  Verity posted details of her story on Facebook and Whatsapp and was overwhelmed by the response.

The Living Clean company cleaned up the house, and the Queensburgh Islamic Society tidied up the garden. Dezzo Roofing was supplying materials for the roof to be repaired, a pest control company was coming, and the house was being painted for free.

Verity said local residents came to repair and clean the house on weekends and were currently fixing the roof.

"Unfortunately we will not have the house ready by Christmas, but she will have her house back in January," Botha said.

In the meantime, Ryan and Majozi were staying with Chrissie Steyn, a relative of Botha's.

Steyn said she had huge respect for Majozi for taking care of Ryan for all these years. Sometimes Majozi used her own money to buy things Ryan needed.

Asked how she felt about the community's kindness, Ryan joked: "It’s taking awfully long." 

She was excited to be moving back to her new home soon. 

"I don't believe in going to doctors and I eat a bowl of Jungle Oats with a teaspoon of turmeric every morning. That is how I have managed to live this long," she said.  

"People say that the police are a bloody nuisance, but I say that the bloody police are bloody marvellous." 

Majozi said she first met Ryan when her mother employed her.

"Her mother loved me very much. I managed to get my children an education because of her. My son works in Parliament," she said proudly. 

Majozi recalled the day Ryan's mother died. "I was heartbroken. She fell and cracked her forehead and I rushed to wrap her with towels. She was taken to the hospital, but she never recovered."

Majozi said the bond between her and Ryan was growing stronger each day.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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