Pretoria – Dealing with a mental illness can be challenging, but when an entire family of five is suspected to be living with the illness since 1993 in poor living conditions, it makes life even more difficult and unbearable.
But thanks to the Gauteng Government’s efforts, the Nhleko family from Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, can now breathe a sigh of relief.
Johannes Nhleko, 59 and his wife Maria Mabena share a one room shack with their three sons Sam, 32, Siphiwe, 27 and Ronnie, 24.
Nhleko, who is suffering from schizophrenia, a mental illness, has defaulted on his medication and refuses to go to the clinic for consultation.
His wife, Maria Mabena, who has been in a wheel chair for about four months was diagnosed with meningitis and has been transferred from Far East Rand Hospital to Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.
Siphiwe, was admitted to hospital on 30 June 2016 for his psychotic behaviour. According to the report, Siphiwe is often influenced by his father, who says he is not ill and should not take his medication.
There are suspicions that Sam and Ronnie also have a mental illness, however they have never been assessed for such. There is also suspicion of substance abuse with the two, however this has also not been assessed and confirmed.
Usually these two are the ones that take care of the family by cooking and cleaning and trying to make sure, that everyone takes their medication.
After being alerted by Daily Sun on the Nhleko’s family situation, Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, led a multi-disciplinary team on Wednesday to assist the family.
During the visit, the department discovered that the Nhleko family is suffering undue hardship and distress.
“This family of five relies on the father’s disability grant. Nhleko’s disability grant card is said to be in the possession of his brother because he does not trust the boys with financial responsibility. The brother receives the grant money and buys groceries for the family.
“The shack that the family occupies is not conducive for human habitation. It has many openings that at this time of the year allows cold air inside. It’s also disturbing that Nhleko and his wife share a one room shack with three elderly men (their children), there is absolutely no privacy. When Nhleko’s wife is discharged, she would not be able to manoeuvre around in her wheelchair and her chance of a normal life, will be compromised,” said Mayathula-Khoza.
She said that the mental health society is aware of the Nhleko family situation and they have been intervening accordingly.
“We have arranged that Nhleko be admitted to hospital urgently. Being an outpatient seems to be failing and not helping him in any way as he is still defaulting on taking his medication and not honouring his appointments to consult with the doctor.
“Further to this, we have arranged that the family receive material and food assistance in the interim while we are ascertaining long-term solutions and have referred the family for home based care services.”
The South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA), which accompanied the MEC, would advise on Siphiwe’s grant status and assist with the disability grant application process.
“We have also referred Ronnie for psychiatric assessment and Sam is being considered for substance abuse assessment at South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA).
“We have reported this family case to the Gauteng Mental Health Society to monitor Johannes’ treatment and explore the possibility of placing him and Siphiwe in a residential facility,” the MEC said. –