A special little girl is her mother’s hope and joy

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Hope (8) and Beauty Ndlovu outside their home in Yeoville, Johannesburg.

Beauty Ndlovu has learned to shrug off the stares from inquisitive eyes that she and her youngest daughter Hope attract as they walk along the streets of their Johannesburg suburb, Yeoville.

But for little Hope, 8, it is not as easy.

“You know, kids are naughty, and they tease each other sometimes,” said Beauty, 42, sitting on the steps leading to the house where the two of them live in a rented room in one of Johannesburg’s oldest suburbs, on the eastern side of the city.

“When we go to…

The indomitable spirit of Caleb Mutombo

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Caleb Mutombo (23) in Kalk Bay, Cape Town.

Caleb Mutombo was 12 years old when he discovered weightlifting. It became an obsession that would dominate the next decade of his life as he started training intensively and eventually competing in body-building competitions.

“My brother and I, we were always talking about our bodies and how we wanted to look nice and build our bodies,” said Mutombo, seated on a bed in the bedroom he shares with his sister, her husband and their two children in Steenberg, Cape Town.

“We didn’t have money for a gym, so we would just lift what we…

Albinism community still marginalised, vulnerable and exploited

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Enough Sihlongonyane combs her daughter, Samkelisiwe’s hair.

Sitting on the bed in the room he shares with his mother and younger sister, Nsikelelo Mamba, 16, has to squint to be better able to watch a programme on the television less than a metre in front of him. His sister, Samkelisiwe, 12, doesn’t have to squint quite as much, but her eyesight isn’t perfect either.

Over the past few months the siblings have been spending most days watching educational television and listening to educational radio programmes in an attempt to keep up their schooling.

Since joining their mother in Nkomazi, in…

Sticking together for survival

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Bhekani Ncube (back) and Admire Makondo

Most days driving through the upmarket northern Johannesburg suburb of Illovo, you’re likely to see him sitting in his wheelchair at a traffic light on Corlett Drive. On Sundays he’ll be sitting a block away on the traffic circle on North Street.

It’s also likely that you will drive past him and barely pay him any attention, maybe avoiding eye contact or pretending you don’t see him. But he’ll be there, sitting in the rain and in the sun, a smile and a friendly wave always at the ready.

For him, it’s about making enough…

Scant help available for mental disorders, stress and trauma

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Moses Tuli and his mother Nossita Maguite Tuli.

Moses Tuli was 13 years old when his mother started noticing small changes in his behaviour.

“I don’t really remember when he became sick. But I really started noticing it when he became aggressive,” his mom, Nossita Maguite Tuli, 56, said through an interpreter. “He started throwing stones at me and kept yelling that he needed money.”

Nossita usually accompanies her now 35-year-old son to the Stimela Activity Centre in Naas, Nkomazi in Mpumalanga, near the Mozambican border. …

Blind Zimbabweans get by on networking, begging and entrepreneurship

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Gift Mupambiki in Yeoville.

Sitting on a pavement in Raleigh Street, Yeoville’s main street, with late-afternoon foot traffic bustling past him, Gift Mupambiki seems unperturbed by the noise around him as he jams on his keyboard.

Despite the incessant hooting of cars and taxis and the commotion of daily life and passers-by, Mupambiki’s repetitive electronic melody is clear. Nearby, a group of men come out of a tavern to watch him play. Most people just pass by, but the occasional child accompanying a parent, unable to contain their curiosity, tries to stop, briefly, to listen.

Living with disability is tough, wherever you are

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Shadrack Mkukuli lost his leg when Renamo rebels attacked the train he worked on.

Living in a rudimentary shack with a dirt floor at the back of his brother’s yard, Shadrack Mkukuli, 58, still carries the physical and psychological scars of the civil war in Mozambique, which ended in 1992.

Mkukuli’s leg was amputated after he suffered a horrific injury in an attack on a train in 1984. …

The Endless Journey

Photography by James Oatway — Text by Jan Willem Bornman

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