Saturday, April 9, 2011

Siblings kick woman with Down syndrome out of her home in Swaziland

From The Times of Swaziland:

MBABANE, Swaziland -– A 23-year old woman suffering from Down’s syndrome has been thrown out of her home at Mangwaneni in Mbabane.

Down’s syndrome is a genetic condition caused by extra genes from the 21st chromosome that results in certain characteristics including some degree of mental retardation, or cognitive disability, and other developmental delays.

The woman, who was born with the disability, behaves like a three-year-old child; she cannot talk and cannot perform any functions expected of a person her age.

She lost both her parents and was left with three siblings, a sister and two brothers, who are all older than her.

About two weeks ago, she was sent away to an unknown place in Bhunya where she lives with a woman she is not even related to.

This is not the first time, as she was previously taken to other people in Hluthi.

Lungile* assumed nomadic status after her youngest brother, Mzwandile, allegedly kicked her out of the main house which used to be occupied by their late mother.

Her siblings each had a room outside the main house where they lived in even before the death of their parents.

Lungile’s sister, Mumcy* said it all began when Mzwandile requested to live in the main house and rent out his room because he wanted to earn an income.

He was unemployed at the time.

"This happened about five years ago. He was living with Lungile in the main house but things turned around after he got a job and renovated his room, which he continued to rent out despite that he was then working," she said.

Mumcy said last year, her brother started sending Lungile away to live with neighbours for weeks.

She said she confronted him about this and even engaged other members of the family to talk some sense into him but to no avail.

She alleged that at one point, Lungile was sexually abused while she was at a relative’s place in the Shiselweni region.

"When she came back, she had sores on her private parts and she could hardly pass a stool. She would make gestures showing shyness and indications that she was afraid to be touched on those areas," Mumcy explained.

Mumcy said they took her to the Mbabane Government Hospital where she was treated.

The elder brother also confirmed that their younger brother was problematic but said he had no say because he was only their half brother.

He said they were of the same mother but had different fathers.

"I cannot interfere in their family matters because we only share the same mother and they are fighting over their father’s homestead," he said.

No one was home when the Swazi News visited the homestead on Tuesday.

Khangeziwe Mabuza, who is Principal Secretary in the Deputy Prime Minister’s Of-fice, said the department will do a thorough investigation, which will involve an assessment of the situation through the involvement of all key stakeholders being the girl and her three siblings.

"The department will engage the Ministry of Justice (Attorney General’s Office and Magistrates Court), the Police (Domestic Violence Unit), Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) and Women and the Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), in order to arrive at the appropriate interventions.