4th Jul 2020 1:29:50 PM

The Charities | The Children | Dorah Mokoena | Health | Schools / Training | Community | Regional Reports | UMashesha
Ado Balombo Bambula
Agnes Wabiwa
Amanda Simanga
Amina Mahamat
Amukelani Dube
Andani Mphaphuli
Anele Nyongwana
Babalwa Debele
Babalwa Mfengu
Baby Babongile
Bafana Nzima
Basheeba Worlotoe
Boipelo Mosegedi
Bongani Madlala
Bongani Phakati
Busisiwe C
Caroline Gichuki
Chris M
Deon Slabbert
Emmanuel Lawal
Evelyn Minto Essono's
Fursy Mugobe
Gabriel C
Gamuchirai Vanessa Gohodza
Gontise Mogotsi
Hatendi Simbe
Helen Matondo
Hlumelo Dondashe
Irene Peta
Jabulani Malungane
Jacques Abrahams
Janine Barends
Jose Mvula
Kagiso Maphoso
Kagiso Mathebula
Kagiso Mphuti
Karabo Thebedi
Kezia Fern Samuel
Kjetil Sandivk Havnen
Koketso Sekuru
Lee Branco
Liane Grond
Lida Basson
Londeka Ngidi
Michelle Ecape
Michelle Mthenjwa
Mohau Qumpula
Mpho Maja
Mungo Nete
Musa Zwane
Neliswe Radebe
Nelson Tsabalala
Nkosi Ncube
Nkululeko Jnr
Nomthandazo Shongwe
Oscar Mlondolozi Hadebe
Phillip Lesingaran
Piet Moloja
Rien ne Dit
Rolivhuwa Matodzi
Rose Wambua
Saloma Aphanye
Sameh Chiboub
Samkelo Somi
Samukelo Radebe
Seetsa Mosoma
Shaun Hart
Shirley Seqobane
Sithembiso Hlatshwayo
Siyabonga Morwasetla
Siyabonga Nokumbi
Steven Marakeng Mpyana
Sunday Mukaza
Tapera Jani
Tendani Yaka
Thulani Nhleko
Tshepiso Maimela
Tshepiso Sekuru
Vhahangwele Matodz
Violet Chibvura
Vusi Mathibela
William B
Yassine Ben Ali
Zanele Jeza
Zianda Ndlovu
Zipho Zwane
Amanda Simanga

Amanda had fun taking several children (Feleng, Dikeledi and Nelson) at Gold Reef City in April 2012

In April 2012 Amanda was nearing the end of her Professional Childcare College course in child care and had plenty of hands-on experience with the young children on site... ensuring that they did not eat too much chocolate even on festive occasions like Easter Sunday.

Amanda on Orion Beach, East London, late September 2011

Amanda celebrated her 21st birthday party with 26 people (mostly children) from Children of Fire visiting her in the Mooiplaas area of the Eastern Cape, some 40 minutes drive from East London.
The girl in pink is her youngest sister, the boy in white is Simamkele (10). The charity bought Amanda's party dress and took her a donation from SABC Television's Selimathunzi programme to help feed all her guests.

Amanda and her filing in the office, October 2011

Amanda Simanga (21) in the new dress bought on 20th September 2011 for her party in the Eastern Cape.

Amanda went to the Pilansberg and got to know elephants in March 2011 - thanks to www.pilansbergelephantback.co.za

Dorah, Amanda, Londeka - March 2011

Amanda was one of the team who climbed to the top of Mt Cameroon in January 2011. Then, as she had not passed Matric, she joined Children of Fire as an intern to see what skills she could develop.

Amanda's story by Amanda, interviewed by Bronwen

My name is Amanda Simanga. I was born on 21st August 1990 in Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto.

My mother Boniswa Simanga; my father Mlindisi Simanga.

I was their first born. I have two sisters Ayabonga (thanks) and Inganathi (blessing), no brothers.

My father stays in Rustenburg, he's a mine worker there.

My mother and my sisters live in East London. She sells sweets, chips, meat in a small spaza shop.

I was doing grade 11 when I was burned.

I was sleeping at my cousin's brother's place - his name is James Khumbulani Madondile.

We usually slept at his place when he was working night shift, at Relite - a factory making batteries. It's part of First National Battery I think. We stayed there to look after his shack for him. It was me and my cousin Ziyanda Madondile. She's doing Matric this year. She was also burned, but not so badly.

It was fine for us; we didn't know there was danger. Ziyanda is Khumbulani's niece.

That night we went to bed after the gospel. It is about 10pm on SABC2, so we went to sleep at 11pm.

I think the fire started around 12 midnight because it was past 12 when I woke up.

The fire started through the front door, since there was only one door.

I tried to catch the key, but I couldn't see the key. Then I cried for help. 'Ncedo!'

I could hear people coming; they couldn't get through the house because there was a burglar [bar] locked. They broke down the door.

I woke up my cousin.

They went to fetch something to open the gate.

They did open the burglar [bar] and one man came to get us. I can't recognise him now but he knows me.

The next thing I remember we were outside with a petrol two litre [can] lying there. We think that's how they started the fire.

We tried calling the police.

We couldn't get an answer.

We called the ambulance. They said it was on its way.

But after 30 minutes later we had to get a taxi; we were getting really cold.

We arrived at hospital. They admitted us. Everything was so quick after that.

We were admitted in room B8, a ward of burned people in Frere Hospital.

Around December my cousin was moved away from me to another hospital, Makhiwane Hospital in Mdantsane. She was discharged after three months there.

I was still at hospital.

I couldn't walk or do anything for myself.

In February I got the physios and OTs. We did some sections with them to train my hands, learn how to walk, feed myself. In the end of February I started to walk for myself, until I was discharged on 27th March 2009.

I still go to the OTs for exercises because I cannot close my hands into fists; my little finger is fused on the left hand.

I am burned on the front of both legs, mostly above the knee; and on both arms - I have a contracture on my left elbow which splinting did not fix, so I will have surgery there.

I did not lose scalp but I have scars on my neck and my face. My ears are ok.

The reason for the attack on my cousin's shack, was related to the strike at his workplace at that time.

They were striking for more money; but not all the people were on strike - some, they were happy with their salaries.

I think Khumbulani's job is involved in mixing the chemicals for the batteries.

The strikers attacked many people. Some of them died; the lucky ones survived. Four children died.

Maybe they knew the older people were working. Everyone who got burned at that time was a kid.

Two children from Mdantsane that I haven't met and someone who was working there got attacked in his car.

Some people raised money for us, R6000. My cousin and I were given half each for medicines, lotions, that we needed.

When I was sent home, my left heel was open. I had to buy my own bandages. My clinic was too far to always go there and I had to wash the wound every day.

The people who burned the shack were wrong; I would never do that to someone else. I wish that they would come and apologise but that takes guts; they can't do it.

They were never caught by the police.

The police took a statement from our doctors.

Our neighbour made some statement.

The police used to come in hospital but they haven't talked to me since I was discharged.

Khumbulani was in a bad situation but we told him not to blame himself.

I have had counselling three times in hospital, because I was having nightmares. It really helped me to talk to someone who would understand me. I was talking about the fear mostly. I had to come to terms with the change in my body.

If I met the man with the petrol now, I would ask 'Why did you do it?'

I think they wanted to kill Khumbulani or to scare him.

Maybe they thought he was at his place at that time.

They never thought about the other shacks so close.

It was painful lying there; you can't eat for yourself; you can't bath yourself. The nurses were pretty nice. They'd never seen a person who burned like that.

My doctor was Dr Simpson, a man. I think he's from the other side of the world, Nigeria or something. He's black in colour, an African, down to earth. The staff worked well altogether. Dr Simpson had a few words of Xhosa but he spoke English. Phakama (get up in the bed) Jikeleza (turn around) he liked most. If I get up in the bed, I would just sit in the chair the whole day.

I will go back to school in 2010, into grade 12. I would like to be an oncologist one day because I think people in the Eastern Cape don't know enough about cancer. I took physics, maths, life science (biology), life orientation, Afrikaans, English, agriculture. They didn't give us any choice - I didn't want to learn agriculture. I would have preferred to learn commerce, to help me with other things.

If I go to university, I would choose Fort Hare (Berea side) or Walter Sisulu in East London.

Going to the Drakensberg with Children of Fire in October 2009 was nice, fun, doing the challenges that I never thought I would do, meeting the people there Our leaders were good company: Abegail, Lindi, Danny, Zamo and Greg the photographer. A short guy from Durban, Mlungisi was always up for a challenge, funny, talkative. Greg was also good in cards, playing poker (but not gambling). Danny was a good chef. Every sort of food we ate ... Wytske cooked mielie rice but it didn't have taste. It was like mealie meal the texture. Danny put in more salt, texture, just usual food - but colourful, delicious.

I was trying my best a hiking, my feet are still sore.

Seif from Tunisia wasn't smoking at first but then Kezia from Pietermaritzburg persuaded him too. When Seif is alone he doesn't smoke. You must have your own brains, not let someone decide for you.

I did the abseiling, but I went sideways! I was scared, when my game was about to end (my rope), it was fun. I will do it again some other time. I saw the birds of prey; they're actually clever. I just wonder how they learn to do what they do.

Dragon Peaks resort is beautiful, and has a beautiful view; there's a lot of activities though.

I think it was Frere Hospital, Sister Loe (col) said I must come to the trip and have fun. There were supposed to be two of us; Sibusiso; we couldn't reach the guy. I did meet him, but he was discharged first. He was 19 or 20. I don't know his story; he had 65 per cent burns. That's how they describe your burns.

They said I'm 55 per cent burns. I didn't burn on my stomach and my back. Even though I had a braid on my hair, my hair didn't burn.

They were amazed.

Now I'm going home. I was planning to get a driving licence or something. Maybe I'll do that next year. There's no money at home. The driving schools all need deposit.

I will go back to Ebenezer Majombozi High School though I did my grade 8 and 9 at Rustenburg.

My father was like blaming my mother for me getting hurt, but I said that it's not her fault. My mother was also hurt; she thought I would die. I think she had a breakdown or something when I was admitted to hospital.

I see life in another way now.

It builds my strength up meeting the other burned children. Meeting Dorah, she's got strength, her situation is bad, although she understands other people. She's quite a sweet girl.

She like food!

Sicelo - I don't think he even cares that he's only got one arm.

I've still got my eyes and everything, I'm quite lucky.

I have been dating. His name is Ayanda. He's 21 years old; a first year student of IT. I've been dating him since last year June until now. He stuck with me, even when I was burned. He was planning to go to Cape Town, but after my accident he decided to stay.

He's handsome; I think he's clever. He understands me a lot, he's got respect. And he gets on fine with my mother.

I'd like to talk to all the workers at the battery factory: those that went on strike and those that didn't. Someone knows someone who knows someone who carried out the attack. There might never be justice for me on Earth, but I want them to know that God sees everything. I want other people to think before they start a violent strike and harm other children; before they harm anyone. Violence solves nothing at all.

This material is Copyright The Dorah Mokoena Charitable Trust and/or Children of Fire , 1998-2020.
Distribution or re-transmission of this material, excluding the Schools' Guide, is expressly forbidden without prior permission of the Trust.
For further information, email firechildren@icon.co.za