Three Limpopo siblings afflicted with same crippling disease

Three siblings from a close-knit family are battling a devastating disease. Kgotso Mafokane (23) Tumelo Mafokane (18) Comfort Mafokane (29), were all born normally. They developed like any child.

However, as they reached their teens, the disease struck. The three brothers are now disabled, unable to walk and bound on wheelchairs.

All were born able to walk

The devastated Limpopo family from Mabocha village outside Burgersfort says their children were born with a rare illness. The disease is known as Muscular dystrophy. They were all born walking like any other child. 

They were donated battery-powered wheelchairs by NGO and public benefit organisation Care4u2.Respite.Outreach. The donation was to help restore their mobility and dignity. 

They can now travel to church without anyone pushing them as it was very tiring. 

The trio were  born  normal but some years latter they stated to experience walking difficulties. They ended up using wheelchairs as a result of their rare medical condition. 

Muscular dystrophy

Dr Benny Choeu, a general practitioner, described Muscular dystrophy as a group of genetic disorder that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscles. An abnormal gene that leads to muscle degeneration.

Most people with muscular dystrophy eventually need wheelchair. 

Dr Choeu said: “Damaged muscles becomes progressively weaker. Treatment can help but it cannot be cured.”

At the age of 17, the 29-year-old Comfort Makofane started  to feel weak when his muscles became progressively weaker. Comfort is a gospel artist and he has released his gospel album. He said: “I find peace and comfort to accept my situation.”

He is now doing a one year learnership in Administration management and earns a R3, 400 stipend. “We use my father’s car to travel to attend learnership in Praktiseer once a week.”

Mother devastated

Their mother, 53-year-old Joyce Makofane, said: “I was given counselling in Dilokong Hospital. This was to help me accept and understand the nature of their medical complication and condition.

“I don’t feel well about the situation and condition of my children. They are weak when they are sick. I help them go to the toilet, feed them, pick them up to help them clamp their wheelchairs. 

Comfort confirmed that he was indeed diagnosed with a rare illness known as Muscular dystrophy.

Some years later, at the age of 13, Kgotso Makofane, 23, whose dream is to become a pig farmer, started to experience similar complications. He was a pupil at Leagathoko Secondary school in Penge. He started feeling weak, losing weight, and falling.

Cannot come to terms with condition

“Until today I didn’t accept my situation. I don’t understand the cause  of my disability. I was born walking like any other child,” Kgotso said. 

“One day I was walking to school when I realised that I don’t have the strength to walk again.”

As if this was not enough, Tumelo Makofane also started to experience walking difficulties.

Tumelo said: “I hope to complete my studies and become a physiotherapist or occupational therapist to help other children born or  with disabilities.”

When their youngest brother Tumelo, 18, started to struggle walking he was in Grade 3. 

“l was very young at the time. When I suddenly lost strength and started to feel week as I was unable to walk again.”

Family impoverished

As family of seven  from the deep rural village of Mabocha  outside the mining town of Burgersfort, they survive on the social disability grant received by the three children.

Their father, Andries Makofane, 55, is working for Modikwa Platinum mine as an under ground team leader. He wishes the mine can employ one of his sons to do light administration duties.

Andries said the money he is earning is not sufficient to take care of the needs of his family.

More support needed

He urged the government and the business community interested to help to step in and assist to build a decent house. The family also needs a proper toilet suitable for people with disabilities.

“We stay near a mountain. The road is not in good condition for them to ride or to move around or go to the shops in the village. They only go to church. They can’t even travel to hospital or town on their own.” he said.

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