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Rolemodel: Spreading hope to people in need

On seeing granny Nomfundo Zokozo's van coming, nine-year-old Bongani Mafanya screams on top of his voice calling to other children to come.

When Zokozo finally parked, children of all ages had already surrounded her car with empty plastic bags pushing each other to get close to her. Their mothers left whatever they were doing and ran to the car with empty buckets while their fathers abandoned their traditional beers and grouped together watching.

An angel

This is Vlakplaas settlement near Spruitview in Ekurhuleni. What is happening today is not new; Zokozo brings some light into the darkness of these people's lives at least twice or three times a month. 

She gives food and clothing to this poor and overcrowded informal settlement. People in Vlakplaas, Rondebuilt and other settlements in the area see Zokozo as an angel. 

She has struck a deal with grocery shops Pick 'n Pay and Woolworths to help her with vegetables, fruit, bread, meat, clothes and other products to give to the needy in the communities.

Single mother

Zokozo (60) also helps taking the sick to clinics and hospital, as well assisting them to get IDs, birth certificates and arranging funerals. After receiving her share, Agnes Moshabisha (56) said it was difficult to raise her three children, as she was unemployed and single.

"Two of my children are of school-going age, but because I don't have money, they stay at home. I sell traditional beer to make a living. Mama Zokozo helps me a lot with food and clothing for the entire family. I know with her around my children will soon go to school," Moshabisha said.

David Fumani (44) said his wife, who had died a week before, could not have been buried if it was not for Zokozo.

Ubuntu

Zokozo started helping people in 1998 when someone died and there was no money for burial. She has worked for different hospitals, including Chris Hani Baragwanath, until she went on pension in 1993.

"Before approaching the shops for donations, a woman called Thobeka Mdikwe used to help me with money to help the needy," Zokozo said. "In 2004, I attended the Women in Dialogue conference hosted by President Thabo Mbeki's wife, Zanele. She taught us about ubuntu which gave me a lot of courage. She encouraged us to help others to make a difference in our country."

- Ndivhuwo Khangale