Gugulethu kidney patient appeals for help

Mfundo Bangani has to be hooked up to a dialysis machine, which does the job his kidneys once did, filtering waste products from his blood, for at least eight hours a day.

Unscheduled power cuts, flooding and poor access to safe water are a threat to a Gugulethu man who has kidney failure.

Mfundo Bangani, 46, lives in the Kanana shanty town with his wife, Nikelwa Bangani, and two daughters aged 17 and 14. He needs daily dialysis to survive, but with a trench of effluent and garbage running past his three-room shack he fears his living conditions will be the end of him.

As Mr Bangani’s health deteriorated, he was forced to quit his job as a security guard, and two years ago, he says, doctors told him he would need daily dialysis to survive. He is now hooked up to a dialysis machine, which does the job his kidneys once did, filtering waste products from his blood, at least eight hours a day.

However, conditions in Kanana, he says, put him at risk of catching an infection that could prove deadly for someone like him, and when it rains, water leaks from the roof of his three-roomed shack and damages boxes of dialysis bags that he gets from the hospital for his dialysis machine.

“This has created a lot of anxiety for myself and my family, especially my children. I know that they fear that one day when they come from school they will find their father no longer alive.

“I need a decent house to live in so that my living conditions do not affect my health. I have been at the hospital three times as I got an infection because of my living conditions.

“When water damages the dialysis bags that I get from hospital, I have to make an order at the hospital, and they do not understand why I have to make another order because they know that these boxes should last me at least a month.

“The truth of the matter is that my life is in danger because of this unhygienic environment that I live in.”

Mr Bangani receives 30 dialysis bags monthly and another five manual dialysis bags to use in load shedding.

“You need to be in a proper house to be able to do this. These bags should not be in contact with anything except a clean place. It needs cleanliness. But look at my area. This is not a place to live for a person in my condition.

“I am hopeful that things will one day change. I recently, in February, applied for a house and hope that the powers that be will help with it. I am waiting for the response on it.” 

Ms Bangani says her husband’s kidney problems started in 2018 and deteriorated over the years.

“But now we have to be positive and give as much support as he needs it,” she says, adding that in Kanana thousands of people share a few unhygienic communal toilets, which is a problem for her husband.

Ward councillor Bongani Ngcombolo says he knows about Mr Bangani’s health and living conditions, but there are other disabled people in the area in a similar predicament.

He says Kanana is part of the Southern Corridor Housing Project, launched in 2019, but development has been sluggish and so far no more than 200 people have been relocated.

Mr Bangani showing the contents of one of his dialysis bags.