'When we cry about something, who cares?' - South Africans share issues ahead of SONA

2019-02-07 07:36
Lorraine Chimhende, who says Ramaphosa should address the nation on the public health sector (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Lorraine Chimhende, who says Ramaphosa should address the nation on the public health sector (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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"Each and every year they need our votes, they come to us. But when we cry about something, who cares?"

This was the question Siyabulela Makha, 37, who shared his concerns about governance near the parliamentary precinct on Wednesday, ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Makha walked past police vehicles, officers and officials who were finalising arrangements for SONA on Thursday night.

The father of two children, both 12, feared that people in informal settlements were forgotten.

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Xolisa Ndwebi, 35, who walked alongside him, agreed. He wanted the head of the nation to explain how he was going to improve safety and sanitation.

"We stay in informal settlements but our voice goes nowhere," he said, shaking his head.

Living in Green Point, Khayelitsha, meant insufficient access to water and toilets, a situation that was even more complicated when one had children and needed clean water, he said.

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Asked where people performed their ablutions, he said: "There is only one way: the bush."

'Helping the homeless'

Taking a quick break on Spin Street before starting her cleaning job at a nearby restaurant, 21-year-old Inga Nkonqana said she was grateful that they were getting the day off on Thursday because of SONA.

She was satisfied with life but said Ramaphosa should speak about "helping the homeless".

Pointing to a man lying under a statue in some shade, she said she often shared her food or water with those in need.

Lorraine Chimhende, 33, a shop assistant opposite Parliament, said Ramaphosa should share his plans for improving the public health sector.

She had been left traumatised after scary experiences with public hospitals and health facilities.

In one instance, her sister had been visiting from Rustenburg when she suffered seizures. They rushed her to a 24-hour hospital, where staff apparently said they must take her back to the North West to be treated. 

The family refused to move. She said her sister was not examined and only seen 12 hours later, when she was prescribed medication.

'If lives are not taken care of, who will he rule?'

In another case, her boyfriend became violently ill and they rushed him to a 24-hour hospital on a Saturday. They were apparently told to come back on Monday.

They visited another facility, where it emerged he had a serious lung infection.

Much closer to home, Chimhende said mental health practitioners messed her around and misdiagnosed her a few times.

Her eyes widened as she spoke of her short stint in a psychiatric hospital under the wrong diagnosis.

"I came out around the time of Life Esidimeni. That's when I realised how those people died.

"If lives are not being taken care of, who is [Ramaphosa] going to rule and be president for?"

The SONA is expected to be delivered at 19:00.

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