The fact that Angel Matsi cannot move with the same agility as other boys of his age does not affect a spirited nature or quick-wittedness. Evidently the nurturing the nine-year-old receives from his family is the X-factor that predominantly contributes to his carefree nature.
But first appearances can be deceiving. His bright smile and sharing nature hide the pain of the touching journey he has endured thus far. Angel is the symbolic testimony to a host of challenges faced by the family even before his birth. During her seventh month of pregnancy his mother, Mathabo Charmaine Matsi, was told that her unborn baby’s head was abnormally large. After his birth he was diagnosed with hydrocephalus characterised by excessive fluid in the brain.
The first VP shunting to insert a drainage tube into his brain on 5 November 2007 had proved unsuccessful and another was performed on 3 December that year, related dad Carol Matsi who is the Chairperson of Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) in Peter Mokaba Region. According to him the doctor feared blindness setting in if the veins accidentally got damaged but he reckoned it was by faith that the procedure was successful. Subsequent headaches led to a mass of blood being discovered on Angel’s brain and necessitated a third operation on 1 April 2012. A similar operation had to be done again on 22 September 2012, he further explained.
Mathabo recalled that by then her son had been fearful of hospitals and medical procedures. “I told God that there would be no further operations and my boy won’t sleep in hospital again. I was tired of being played by the devil, my son crying, seeing tubes all over his body and my husband stressed.”
The fact that Angel is partially disabled contributed to the fact that he overstayed his time in pre-school, resulting in great frustration over seeing his friends moving on to primary school, Carol pointed out. He continued mentioning that at the age of seven Angel had been enrolled at Tsutsumetsa Primary School in Seshego, but on the second day found his son outside class in the rain as the teacher couldn’t deal with his presence any longer. At Dorothy Langa Primary School they were advised that Angel had to be taken to a school for disabled learners, he added. Mathabo took the story further by saying she had approached Snell Phoshoko Primary School Principal Phala Mosomane in August 2013 with the intention of enrolling Angel for the following year’s intake. To the contrary she was told to already take him to school the next week. That Monday morning Angel had woken up singing and dancing at the prospect of attending his new school, she said. Ever since Angel has been happy at school and was eager to learn.
Posing questions to Angel, he conceded that Morena Mosomane was his hero. Addingto the conversation his dad said Angel still had a fear of falling while struggling to walk long distances and that transport to and from school by taxi remained a challenge. In addition to the other obstacles Angel was still in need of specialised treatment, such as physiotherapy for his one foot being smaller than the other and his spine not being well balanced, indicated Carol. It turned out that public healthcare was more focussed on the scores of children in need of more medical care than Angel and private doctors’ consultations very costly for minimal results in return, he stressed.
Carol expressed gratitude towards former Polokwane Executive Mayor Freddy Greaver for extending a hand of assistance in the form of food and transport while Angel was in hospital before. “The others ignored the pleas for help in the past.” In conclusion he expressed the opinion that they didn’t fight the revolution to go through hardship afterwards. “We are suffering while comrades who were deployed in other institutions don’t help us. We fought a lot of battles, but up to so far we have got nothing.”
Story: YOLANDE NEL