On Saturday, Anneliese Damons, founder of the Cinderella Project, and rescue workers successfully removed a 27-year-old disabled and mute Eastern Cape woman from a shack that was infested with rats.
As reported by the Herald, the woman was found in an extremely disturbing condition, and if the rescue workers had responded any later, we would be reporting under different circumstances.
How Damons came across the mute Eastern Cape woman
According to Damons, whose organisation helps impoverished girls with shoes and dresses for their matric dance. the community of Booysen Park, in Bethelsdorp, alerted her of the 27-year-old.
It is said that she was raised by a negligent mother who spent a portion of her first six years of life in jail for smuggling drugs. The mute Eastern Cape woman was failed by the state a number of times.
After being diagnosed with a serious case of epilepsy, she was released into the care of her mother, whose release from jail came with the condition that she would take good care of her daughter.
Instead, as Damons reflected, the absolute opposite happened, She was told by residents from Booysen Park that they first caught wind of the shack the woman inhabited in November 2018.
Months of neglect and strange activity in the shack, including the constant influx of men and muffled screams of a woman, prompted the community to take a stand and approach Damons.
In what condition was the woman found?
When the Cinderella Project founder visited the shack, she stumbled on a scene she will never be able to etch off her memory.
“When we found her she was eating dry rice out of the packet and trying to swallow it with water from a dirty bottle. The woman had rat bites on her head as they began to chew on her hair and scalp. I was shocked to discover that she was already 27. She was so small — like a young girl.
“The door to that shack didn’t lock. Men were in and out of there. There is not a teaspoon or a cup in the house, just the dirty plastic bottle she was holding onto. Her teeth were so brown, it looked like she had a mouth full of soil. It smelled like she was dead but she was alive. She was coughing deep, sore cough like one who is dying. She can’t walk and she can’t speak,” Damons recalled.
What will happen to her now?
The woman was returned to Dora Nginza Hospital and according to Department of Health spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, an inquest will be launched to determine why she was released in the care of the negligent mother just three days prior to the discovery Damons and the rescue workers made in the shack she called home.
“The girl is safe now. The nurses said a social worker will come see her on [Monday],” Kupelo confirmed.
It has not been revealed whether the mother is due to have charges laid against her.