MARITHA Ndlovu has been called many names and accused of innumerable transgressions, but the one that really grates her is the accusation that she had a hand in the scalding of her four-year-old son with boiling water.
She believes that the police investigations and the courts will prove that she had nothing to do with her son’s horrific burns, which forced doctors to cut off part of his foot.
Maritha cannot wait for the day of vindication, but she believes it won’t mean much as the damage has already been done. She says she has a distinct feeling that much will have been lost and little gained by then.
For the vilified mother of two – who has been saddled with accusations that include harming her son to spite Mahachi, being a bitter ex-wife who does not want her ex-husband to have peace in his new marriage and a greedy woman who wants a big payoff – the well- being of her son is all that matters.
The rest is just noise.
Ever since she was called to Cowdray Park suburb to see her hurting son, who was smuggled to Zimbabwe from South Africa unaccompanied by an adult, Maritha has refused to leave his side.
She is now a resident at Mpilo Central Hospital.
“What happened to my son was horrible. It’s one of the most horrible things that can happen to a child. My son was alone in South Africa after he was scalded and he travelled all the way to Zimbabwe without anyone who cared to look after him.
“That was the last time he will ever be alone. I am with him 24 hours a day and seven days a week. I refuse to leave his bedside. I came with him to the hospital and I will leave with him. His father chooses not to be there for his child for reasons best known to him. I choose to be there for him because I am his mother and I have undying love for him,” she said.
Maritha says she watches over him like a hawk and has no choice but endure cold nights on the cold floor under her son’s hospital bed.
“At first they didn’t want me near him when they were cleaning his wounds and dressing him because I was too emotional. But now I assist in dressing him. I am always by his side. I assist in washing him and everything.
“He does not sleep much because of the pain. But whenever he is asleep, I make sure that I am also asleep because when he is awake, he wants my attention and care. I sleep on the floor under his bed because I cannot afford to be away from him. I bathe here using cold water, I am now used to it, but I could use a hot bath.
“He loves being pick-backed that seems to relax him. The pain meds help him to sleep. He takes about five pills a day and gets injected a lot. He doesn’t want me to leave his side. The nurses have been wonderful, I won’t lie. Whenever we call for them, they come running from the nurse’s station,” she said.
When her son is not being treated by the doctors and nurses, mother and son Netflix and chill on his bed.
“He loves Netflix a lot. We watch movies a lot together on my phone. He loves cartoons and can’t get enough of them. My data does not last anymore because he always wants to watch. At times I fall asleep as we watch movies because I have no time to sleep,” she explained.
Mother and son’s diet consist of hospital food and food she buys herself from the caravans stationed outside the hospital as police advised her not to accept food from relatives.
She said: “At first we used to get nice food from relatives who are here every day including Mahachi’s sisters who visit daily, and my mother. But police have since said I must not accept food from anyone because my son is the main witness in his case. They fear that he can be poisoned.
“He loves Chicken Inn. If it was up to him, he could eat it every day. At times he helps me eat the food I buy from the caravans outside the hospital. Eating together has helped us deepen the bond we already have.”
While Maritha willingly looks after her son, she admits that she misses her six-year-old daughter who is under the care of her sister.
“I miss her a lot and I wish there was a way I could be with both of them, but it’s impossible. I had to ask my sister to come and stay with her. She has been amazing as she helps her with school work, washes her clothes and feeds her. I call every day to check on her, but I miss being next to her,” a tearful Maritha said.
Maritha’s catalogue of worries are not limited to her son and daughter and Mahachi’s threat of a $55 million lawsuit. Her stay in hospital has drained her finances and negatively affected her business.
“I sell clothes and food for a living, but since I came here, I have not sold anything. I have exhausted my finances on medication and food. I have hospital bills to pay. I don’t even know what to do as my daughter and sister need food. My daughter knocks off at 3 pm and during her time at school she has to eat three times, I don’t know where I will get the money to feed her.
“I also have to pay rent. I am fortunate that I have a very understanding landlord because my rent is due. My landlord is in South Africa and he calls every day to check on my son. Even the woman I give rent money to has been here. I have been here for three weeks and it is clear that I won’t leave anytime soon. I need an angel to come and rescue and bail me from my financial situation,” she said.