Three child-headed families in Mbali, Pietermaritzburg, had the rare opportunity to share their plight with President Jacob Zuma when he visited the area as part of the Presidential Imbizo.
The President said he was touched by an orphaned young man who has the responsibility of raising his three siblings, while studying.
“… Thulebone [Maphumulo] is the eldest in his family. He is trying to study… he is trying to work, and to hold his family together,” said the President, speaking at the imbizo held at the Durban University of Technology, Indumiso Campus.
Maphumulo, who lives in an RDP house in Mbali 2 in Pietermaritzburg with his three siblings, said he did not expect the President to visit his home.
The 21-year-old said he was nervous when the President Zuma walked into his yard.
“The condition we live in at home is not good. I am the eldest at home and I am taking care of my three siblings, aged 12, 10 and seven years old. They are schooling and I am also a student at a FET College,” he said.
“We do not have any income. My siblings do not receive social grants. We receive donations and support from our neighbours most of the time, but sometimes I get part time jobs on weekends to make sure that we survive,” he added.
Maphumulo is studying towards a Human Resource Diploma, but has a passion for BCom. Accounting as he wants to become a chartered accountant one day.
“I started my course in June this year and I have applied for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) loan. I should be completing the course next year in December,” he said.
President Zuma said government would adopt Maphumulo’s family, so that he could study the course of his choice in 2015, while social workers took care of his three siblings.
“I can’t find words that can best describe my gratitude for President Zuma’s intervention, I truly appreciate it,” he added.
More than 10 Ministers who attended the Presidential imbizo, which is the first under the new administration, also visited households in different wards across Pietermaritzburg, before discussions with residents.
President Zuma, who addressed about 2 000 residents from across the town in a tent erected on the campus sports grounds, said government’s decision to hold an imbizo created a platform for leaders of the country to hear the problems of citizens.
“We cannot keep saying we are working whilst we do not know if people are getting services or not. We must have an imbizo with people so that we can hear what they have to ask and complain about,” said President Zuma.
During the imbizo residents shared their service delivery issues and the President said these would be taken to relevant departments and government would make sure that they are addressed.
He said his next visit to the area should only be about good news, as government would have dealt with many issues.
Eugenia Mbeje of Ashdown, in Pietermaritzburg, said she was happy to have President Jacob Zuma visit her town.
“I personally think that government has done a lot in our town. We have put a lot of problems behind us… we have received many services from government. Our councillors are really trying, but there is still more work that needs to be done,” said Mbeje.
The 64-year-old said various government departments usually visited her community on service delivery outreach programmes.
“A Home Affairs truck comes to our community to help people who have problems with their identity documents and birth certificates. Social workers are also assisting on many issues in my community,” she said.
Mbeje said although she was happy with government services so far, drug abuse and crime was still a concern for many in her community. She also said she would be happy if government refurbished sports facilities and halls in the town for the benefit of youth.