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Lesbian abandoned her mother

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MANZINI—She has been on ARVs for the last 13 years and is unemployed.

She sometimes spends days without food with her two grandchildren who are aged nine and 13 years. She says she has been living with them ever since they were born in the one roomed flat located in one of the skwatta camps located in Manzini.

Inside the room, there is a hot plate with two pots on it and clothes are littered everywhere, and there is a bunk bed where she puts up below and her two grandchildren on top, facing opposite directions and there is a strong feel of poverty. She lives a life of a beggar as she moves around the Manzini city begging for food so that she would survive with the HIV/AIDS treatment she is taking.

She does not fear declaring her status to us and to the world because she says she needs help. She feels she is about to die and she foresees disaster that will befall her family. She says what bothers her is the fate of the two children who are in her custody. “I have tried to put them up for adoption, but seemingly no one is interested in them,” when she says this, her eyes suddenly turn red and tears start to flow.

This the sad story of Sharon Potgieter, who is often referred to as ‘granny’ by her neighbours at the skwatta camp where she lives, that is located around Hhelehhele and her two grandsons who are full of life. The children who worry her this much belong to the President of the Gays and Lesbians Association Thuli Rudd, who is often referred to as Thulani by her gay and lesbian friends.

According to Potgieter, Thuli has rejected her children to the extent that when she was pressed to pay maintenance for her children who are in the custody of her mother, she forcefully took the children and dumped them in an orphanage. “I was not happy that my grand children were going to live like orphans when their mother and grandmother were alive,” she said. She said she then fetched the children from the orphanage and she lives from hand to mouth with them with no help forthcoming from their mother.

Thuli lives with her fiancée around the Fairview suburbs and has a good job at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital. She works for NERCHA on attachment from the organ-isation. Her fiancée works for the Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS). Her mother says she is sad that last week Thuli proposed marriage to a young woman, whom she believes had a future in her hands until ‘she allowed the madness of her daughter to twist her mind’.

“What angers me is that she promised and declared that she was going to take care of that woman both financially and otherwise. How could she provide for her when she is failing to maintain her children let alone her HIV+ mother who is living in abject poverty,” she said. During our interview the youngest of Thuli’s children would chip in and assist her granny to explain how misery and strife was driving them to the doldrums of poverty.

Sometimes granny falls sick and there is no one to provide food for us, we then go out to look for food from our neighbours and at times we go to town to beg for food,” she said. *Teyise is the daughter of a PUDEMO stalwart who will not be revealed for now. According to Potgieter, the stalwart is currently battling with sickness which has forced him out of work for a long-time.

“Before he got sick, he used to give us E200 monthly as maintenance and this money was not enough because mantaining children is expensive,” she said.

Potgieter said she was praying for his survival everyday with the children and she said, “I pray that God heals him so that she would continue to look after his child.” Nb: Teyise is not her real name.

I don’t approve of their marriage MANZINI— Sharon Potgieter has told this newspaper that she does not approve of her daughter’s proposed marr-iage to another female. Potgieter has told this newspaper that Thuli was a disgrace to her and she had on several occasions tried to convince her to drop the lesbian ‘rubbish’ which her daughter was doing. “I have tried everything. We used to pray for her everyday with her children, asking God to help her come out of the mess she is in now,” she said. Potgieter told this newspaper that they were no longer praying for her because it had been years that Thuli has neglected them ever since she discovered that she loved women. “I took it upon myself to take care of the children because Thuli’s sexual preference was driving her crazy, and she neglected her children for women,” she said. She said her family was totally against her daughter’s sexuality and she sounded surprised that there were claims that both members of the couple’s families attended the function where Rudd declared her undying love to the young and petite Pitseng Vilakati. “I can tell you now I did not attend that thing and I can confirm to you that none of my family members attended,” she said. Potgieter said she believed her daughter was cursed, however, she says she has stopped praying for her because seemingly her prayers were not helping. “I have lost hope in her, in fact I have since written her off my heart. I am now living for these children. Had it not been for them, I believe I would probably be dead by now.”

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