EGHTER Khanye still does not have her son’s death certificate.
She claims she was told that since he was born in South Africa, where they lived with her husband from 1992, she could not take possession of the document that made official what she already knew in her heart: that her son is no more.
Soon after his father passed on, Arnold Khanye also breathed his last. The details surrounding his death make for sad reading. As her mother, who was still adjusting to living in her native country almost a decade-and-a-half after she left it, struggled to put food on the table, Arnold and her younger brother starved. With Arnold around, her movements were extremely restricted as she needed to take constant care of him.
As she watched her children, especially the one with special needs, struggle with empty bellies, Eghter knew that she had to do something. With the little money she had in her pocket, she decided to buy sausages that were on sale at a local retail outlet.
“I always cooked together with my boys and although, like their father, they didn’t like meat much, whenever I was frying it, they would just eat from the pan. That’s the same thing that happened when I cooked those sausages. After they ate them, Junior reacted as if he had a skin rash while Arnold didn’t show any signs. I took Junior and the sausages to the retail outlet I had bought them and when I got there, his condition was getting worse. A man who said he was the manager said there was a possibility that the sausages were left out of the fridge overnight by mistake,” she recounted to Sunday Life.
As she was juggled from office to office, another manager from the outlet had told her to get a letter to seek help from the doctor if they were going to assist her. As she was told this, the mother of two, who was still finding her footing in Zimbabwe, remembered she did not have enough money to her name to consult a doctor. In addition, she had other worries on her mind. Arnold, her autistic son, was still alone and hungry at home, with only the poisonous sausages seductively keeping him company. As she rushed home, her worst fears had already come true.
“When I got home, he had been vomiting. He had apparently eaten the rest of the sausages in the pan. I called the doctor that had seen Arnold before and he said, because of his health condition, it wasn’t easy to treat him as he needed to be given something to sleep first. I tried everything. I used African herbs that I had knowledge of on both of them and also got something that was recommended by the doctor at a pharmacy. But Arnold did not make it,” she said.
The death of her beloved son to what she believes were poisonous sausages has been a scar that Khanye has chosen to ignore over the past two years. Towards the end of last year, however, a letter sent to her from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) brought fresh pain from the healing wound.
According to my records, you imported a motor vehicle with the above details through Beitbridge Border Post and got the above assessment of ZWR (US$)6 002,74 being the amount payable,” read the letter from Thabisiwe Mapolisa, the customs authority’s Regional Manager. “Please note that the assessment is still outstanding and as a result, you are required to pay the outstanding amount of ZWR (US$)6 002,74. Please make arrangements to pay the outstanding amount by 16/10/2020 after which I will institute further action to recover the amount.”
While she missed the deadline, for that payment, Khanye later made it in February of this year. That was when she was slapped with additional charges for the storage of the car. It is this extra fee that has brought fresh anger and grief for Khanye, as she had long given up on the Mazda 2 that she tried to drive across the border back to her homeland when her husband passed awa
That car, whose duty cost three times its value according to her, demanded a lot of resources from a new single parent that was still waiting for her husband’s pension. When she finally crossed the border, she had seen her autistic son’s growing distress. The family of three had also lost all their passports.