Monday, November 14, 2011

November 10, 2011

Strange events never cease to amaze me about Renekeng Government Primary School. Today some of the teachers and I visited a little girls who’s been absent from school for well over a month now…because she’d allegedly been poisoned by a classmate Both of the girls are in class 1.
The story goes like this (although nothing’s been proven…even with a police investigation): It seems that a first grader invited her friend into a dunga after school and offered her some hair elixir to eat. (Dungas, by the way, are very deep crevices in the earth, made from water erosion.) The little girl, being hungry after school, ate the elixir, went home and then became violently ill. The girl’s mama immediately picked up the girl, who was convulsing by this time, and jumped into a taxi to get her to the nearest clinic. One of the teachers happened to be riding in that very taxi and, upon seeing how serious the situation was, convinced the mom to go to Maputsoe, the nearest big town, rather than the local clinic in Peka, which is always out of medicine and never has a doctor available.
By the time the three of them reached the bigger clinic in Maputsoe, the little thing was barely breathing. The clinic sent the three of them to a hospital in the camp town of Hlotse. Many rides later, the trio arrived at the hospital, where all the nurses just shook their heads in despair while the mom and teacher stood helplessly and cried with fear. A passing doctor happened to see the now very still child, grabbed her and rushed her away. After staying with her and working on her frail little body all night, the girl began to show some signs of life. She was sent home in three days, but returned because she had turned blind and was shaking constantly.
While all this was going on, the little girl who offered the elixir to her friend was questioned. She repeated the same story over and over: “My grandma told me to bring my friend to the dunga after school. She told me to only bring her and then tell her to eat the elixir. My grandma said I was not to eat it myself.”
The grandmas of both children were then brought in for questioning. (The mother was still at the hospital with her child)…Now, here’s where the story gets even more intriguing: It seems that the mother of the child who was poisoned is a policewoman in the neighboring town of Peka. Not only is she on the police force there, but the previous week she had arrested the son of the grandmother who had allegedly told her grandchild to feed the elixir to her classmate.
Are you following all this??? This still has not been resolved. After several days of questioning and several days of giving the same answer, the little girl who said she’d indeed fed the elixir to her friend came to school with many bruises on her body. She told the school that the grandma, for telling her story, had beaten her. When the grandma was again questioned, this time about the wounds on her granddaughter’s body, she said she had beaten the girl for lying to us.
The little girl, whom we visited today, has regained her sight, but she has a constant shaking in both hands and a problem with her speech. . She seemed quite alert and happy to see all of us; that made us happy and relieved. I am hoping that the family will be able to afford to bring her to a specialist in South Africa.
When we questioned the grandma about her granddaughter’s return to Renekeng, an absolute NO was answered; they are so afraid of more “witchcraft” being set upon the family. Renekeng’s villages are indeed strangely superstitious.
It is my hope that I shall see the little girl in school when it resumes in January, after the summer vacation.

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