“Sometimes I only manage to make R10 a day just to put bread on the table” – 17 year old boy

Neighbour Noxolo Mafilika and Sivuyile Sibhozo holding Sivuyile’s 15-year- old brother. Picture by GroundUp.
Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

When you’re 14 years old, your parents normally take care of you. But Sivuyile Sibhozo from Site C Taiwan Informal Settlement in Khayelitsha has been taking care of his brother and grandmother for the past three years.

The 17-year old lost his mother in 2004 and he and his 15-year old brother were taken care of by his grandmother Nowatuse.

But last month Nowatuse died, leaving Sivuyile to run the household.

GroundUp visited the boys in their three room shack. The shack is very old, with holes in the wall and roof through which the sky can be seen.

“Some times I only manage to make a R10 a day just to put bread on the table,” says Sivuyile.

He dropped out of school in 2012, in Grade 7, and took a job in a construction company in Goodwood.

“It was not an easy decision to take but it had to be taken. I could not just sit and watch my family’s hunger,” he says.

“Some times I regret the decision I took to leave school but at that me it was the only solution for me,” says Sivuyile.

Neighbour Noxolo Mafilika and Sivuyile Sibhozo holding Sivuyile’s 15-year- old brother. Picture by GroundUp.

“I could not watch my family suffer like that. All the food my grandmother used to buy would not last a month. She was not working and depended on my brother’s foster grant. The money was not enough, we were always in debt and that is why I decided to nd a job and help her,” he says.

But the job didn’t last long. He says the man who helped him find a job had a fight with his boss, so they both lost their jobs.

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Now he tries to find piece work to support himself and his brother, who is in grade 9 at Ntlanganiso High School.

“I regret not going to school but I don’t want my little brother to lose the same opportunity of being somebody one day,” he says. He hopes to find a job cleaning toilets so he can buy his younger brother school shoes.

Sivuyile’s brother, who asked not to be named, says at times he sits at home and hopes that one of the neighbours will come and knock on their door just to offer them food.

He says some times he dodges school because of hunger.

“My brother is trying but the money he makes only lasts a day. There are weeks where he cannot find any piece job and we know that we will go to bed with an empty stomach,” he says.

The 15-year old hardly talks and keeps looking down. All he wants to do, he says, is study so that he can have a future.

Neighbour Noxolo Ma lika who some times gives the boys food, told GroundUp she met the family while Nowatuse was still alive.

She says some times when she visits the boys she finds them sitting in a dark house with no electricity.

“Not so long ago one of the skollies stole their television. Last week the same skollie took Sivuyile’s cell and stabbed him, but we did not open a case. I don’t want him to get involved with criminals,” she says.
“This is a very sad situation. I always know that the food I’m giving them won’t last for long,” she says.