My Thuma Mina moment: Mpumalanga man says why he helped 4 kids wandering in the street

Two of the allegedly neglected children shopping for new clothes. (Supplied)
Two of the allegedly neglected children shopping for new clothes. (Supplied)

Inspired by President Cyril Ramaphosa's Thuma Mina (Send Me) call, social activist Bongane Nzima could not stand by and do nothing when he saw four dirty and hungry minors walking through the streets in his home town of Perdekop in Mpumalanga.

Someone told Nzima about the vulnerable children and he spotted them as he was walking home last week.

The heartbreaking video he took while speaking to them later went viral on social media.

"I saw the children passing in the street. It was very cold and they were wearing blankets. They were dirty and looked very sick," he recalled.

It was already late in the afternoon and he knew the social development department offices would be closed.

"I asked them on the video: 'Have you eaten?' And they said to me: 'No, we haven't.' I told them I would buy them bread, which I bought, and that I will get them a social worker the next day."

The girls were vulnerable and he felt it would take a few days for all the processes to be followed.

'I couldn't stand by'

"They could have been raped, molested, killed or sold, so I couldn't stand by."

Nzima said he visited the children at their shack and they were alone. He felt they could have been at risk of burning themselves.

"I brought them to my house. Social development responded swiftly and I also have to commend the office of the premier of Mpumalanga (Refilwe Mtsweni), who sent a delegation."

He said they sent the police to fetch the children and officers did a good job ensuring that they undergo a medical check-up.

"The delegation did something that really touched me. They bought everything for these children and ensured the processes were being followed. Lots of clothes and toys. I don't think these children have ever had toys and they were [so excited] playing with them in the store."

Thanks to Nzima's actions in roping authorities in, the children were assisted and taken to a place of safety. Mpumalanga police also confirmed that their mother was arrested for alleged child neglect on Wednesday.

Colonel Mtsholi Bhembe said the woman, 34, was arrested near Kabokweni after the video, which showed that the children were "gallivanting unsupervised on the street in a bad state", sparked an investigation.

"The children believed to be between the ages of 3 and 13 were apparently left alone by their mother who apparently left them to fend for themselves in an unventilated shack, since early June this year," said Bhembe. 

The mother was expected to appear in the Volkrust Magistrate's Court on Thursday.


A humble Nzima said he didn't know whether he also had a maternal instinct but he wanted to ensure the children were afforded their constitutional right to parental care.

"Despite Section 28 of the Constitution, I also remembered that we really have to do something as members of the community. It was the clarion call that the president spoke about," he said.

"I analysed that [Hugh Masekela] song. When people are being abused like this, can we be there for these children?"

Despite being a community where many people relied on social grants, the people of Perdekop opened their hearts and wallets to assist with clothes and money for the place of safety housing the children.

Nzima said he was touched to see people from around South Africa chip in.

If anyone would like to assist the children with donations, they can contact the Louis Hildebrandt Children's Home at or 017 735 4351.

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