Mathandi of Bohlokong in Bethlehem is a mother of three and grandmother to five. None of her children are employed and they all live together in one house and survive on Mathandi’s government pension and the childcare grants for the grandchildren.
Mathandi said she had never worried about gaining weight, believing it was something she did not need to be concerned about as an African woman. But three years ago she became too big to move and could no longer get out of bed.
Mathandi said she had never worried about gaining weight, believing it was something she did not need to be concerned about as an African woman.
“I can’t even move nor walk. When I want to use the toilet I have to call on my second born to come and assist me. Or I just relieve myself in the bed and she will come and change the bed sheets,” she said.
High blood pressure
Mathandi’s oldest son is sick with TB and HIV, so is unable to help much. She suffers from high blood pressure but has been unable to get the medication she needs to treat the condition because she is immobile and cannot visit the clinic.
“Now I depend on the aloe leaves that I have in my yard garden, and sometimes a friend of mine shares some of her high blood pressure pills with me when she comes from the clinic.”
Mathandi blames herself for her situation, saying she is the one who allowed her weight problem to get out of hand.
“We eat pap for breakfast, lunch and supper with whatever we have in the house,” she said. Sometimes the family eats “maleboti” – a combination of pap with fish oil and butter, with some spices on top.
“I do want to lose weight, but I have no hope anymore. I have accepted myself the way I am. I have made peace that I’m going to die in this situation,” she said.
Motlalepula Moguni from DDI (Dihlabeng Development Initiative) said people in the area were working on a plan to try and help Mathandi. She said the intention was to get all the necessary documentation filled in to enable them to collect the medication Mathandi needs on her behalf every month and deliver it to her.