Empty bellies normal for this child-headed house

A 20-year-old woman who has been the head of her household since she was only 14 cannot concentrate in school saying she is unsure whether or not her family will have food on the table tonight or not.

Portia Sibiya who lives with her two siblings, aged six and 18 years, in Lows Creek near Barberton, is currently in Grade 10 at Lows Creek Combined School.

"Sometimes I can't even concentrate at school because our situation at home is very bad. After my mother died, she left us with a one roomed house and as the elder sibling; I had to work part time so that we can survive. I don't know my father. My mother looked after us from birth," said Sibiya, whose mother died in 2010 from HIV Aids.

Since her mother passed away, Sibiya has worked at a nearby lodge on a part time basis.

She spent some of the money earned to add two rooms to the house and bought a stove and cupboard.

Tragedy struck again when Sibiya's son died in 2012, just four months before his second birthday.

Sibiya still doesn't know what killed him.

Then, in 2013, the lodge closed its doors.

Now, she and her young siblings live in a shack that is on the verge of collapse. Sibiya said that when the wind blows, parts of the roof lift up.

"The roof was never properly fitted. Wind and rain always comes through and it makes a lot of noise. I can't get a good night's rest and is very tired the next day at school," said Sibiya.

Sibiya said she is very desperate and no one seems to want to help her.

"Our grandparents are too old to look after us and we are not managing with the grant we receive from government," she said.

A friend, William Ndwandwe, who has tried to help Sibiya and her family in the past said their house is dilapidated and not even cows would want to sleep in it.

"She deserves a better house. If heavy rains should come, their house will wash away and they will have nothing," said Ndwandwe.

Cyril Ripinga, spokesperson for the Nkomazi local municipality, promised to get in touch with the family and find out why they don't have an RDP house.

"We will be in contact with the family to see why they were not assisted, however the municipality is only in position to identify beneficiaries. It is the Department of Human Settlement that determines who should get the RDP house," said Ripinga.