Dumped like a bag of a rotten tomatoes, Darius van Wyk found himself homeless, needy and with no one to take care of him. He lived a normal comfortable life like most white people until he was involved in a car accident 3 years ago that left him paralysed.

Darius was happily married with children and a place he called a home. It was a home like any other, with challenges that every couple encounter in a relationship. The accident changed everything, Darius was left crippled and wheelchair bound.  Unable to neither bathe nor walk on his own, for a year Darius lived with his wife until he was dropped in an open space not far from Ntate Masemola.

Ntate Masemola worked for Darius’ father and they kept contact. The 74 years old, survives on pension and some menial jobs in construction. He has a three roomed shack in Laezonia, Pretoria which he shares with his wife and children with no access to basics such as water and electricity. The only means of water is a weekly municipal delivery to the nearby tank; the area still relies heavily on paraffin stoves and woods for cooking. It also still uses the bucket toilet system which sometimes is forgotten by the municipality to collect which makes the place unpleasant with very bad smell.

Ntate Masemola has to live in these conditions with Darius whom he has since allocated a room and moved his children to the kitchen. “I had no option but to help him, I could not let him suffer without proper care” he said.

A person in a wheel chair needs serious attention and care, which is a very difficult task for an old man like Ntate Masemola who must bathe and clothe Darius. The love that Masemola has shown to Darius is extra-ordinary and inspiring bearing in mind his condition.

“We have to help; it’s something we are accustomed to as Africans, we don’t forsake people”, adds Ntate Masemola . “We are poor but our poverty cannot limit us to help those who are unfortunate than we are. It’s important to extend a helping hand where possible.”

 “Some people have suggested that we take him to an old age home but we don’t think its proper to dump him there”, said Ntate Masemola emphasizing on a need to have him cared for at his home. “The little we have we will share with him. We are able to help him with washing his clothes and until we’re old enough and fail to assist, it is then that he can go to an old age home. We seriously need to examine how we treat each other as people and show love to one another”, he said.

Arriving at Ntate Masemola’s house, I found him sharing a bottle of traditional African beer with Darius and other people from the informal settlement. Clearly Darius has become part and parcel of the community. He has learnt to eat and share food and drinks with the people and the Masemola family.

Even though this kind 74-year-old has nothing of value, owns no property except for the corrugated iron shack and an old van which looks like it last hit the road 15 years ago; he has been able to take Darius in and assist him.

Ntate Masemola has managed to prove to many that in spite of history of racial division and segregation he has no reason to dump a man of a race which was toxic towards his own.

“Masemola was just an employee at home and then a sub-human, but look now at what he is doing for me; things that my own family is failing to do.” a teary Darius said.

“He has never shouted nor insulted me, when I ask to be bathed. I pay him nothing except for the money we contribute towards buying food from my disability grant. This is real love.” said Darius.

It’s in an important lesson for many people out there that love transcends hate. The best thing we can do is to love one another in spite of our deformity. An old Man like Masemola and his family are teaching us that, we hurt ourselves by hating but we gain love and happiness by loving.

 

By Ntsako Shivambu 

 

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