‘We were broken’ – JHB family on how COVID-19 tore them apart after two deaths

The Khoza family lost two relatives in the space of just three weeks.

The late Disman and Thandeka Khoza who died after contracting the coronavirus. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - A Johannesburg family has told Eyewitness News how their family has been torn apart by COVID-19.

The Khoza family lost two relatives in the space of just three weeks.

This is the sad reality for many South African families as the country waits for the first batch of a vaccine to reach our shores.

Zakithi Khoza was among the hundreds of thousands of South Africans who tested positive for COVID-19 during the first wave.

He believes he contracted the virus from his local barber: “I remember the barber was very fluey and I said to him he needs to stop putting money before his health because I was actually more worried about him.”

Shortly after he recovered his 76-year-old father who exercised for two hours every morning and was a vegetarian fell ill.

Khoza’s sister arrived to care of their father believing he might have a heart problem.

“He was a bit weak; he was sweating (and) my sister was wiping him and making sure he was comfortable. She was thinking it was a cardio issue and wasn’t taking note of masks and that sort of stuff, she was just helping her dad who has a heart condition. He goes for a second and third opinion and these private doctors are taking him from pillar to post. Eventually, one of them tests him for COVID to see.”

She also fell ill and died while their father was in intensive care.

“We were broken, I don’t want to lie to you. Our lives were shattered because we didn’t see any of it coming; she was healthy and one day we wake up and she’s gone. And when all of this happening, my dad is in isolation. He is weak, he has become worse, he hears that his daughter has passed away. He can’t leave his room; he feels useless that as the man of the house he cannot comfort anybody. Deep down in my heart, something said this is the end for my old man and I received a call telling me my dad was late. So, we had to go through that same process again.”

Khoza and his wife have now moved back home to be with his mother and niece as they try to come to terms with the sudden loss of their loved ones.

OSTRACISED BY COMMUNITY

The Khoza family has told Eyewitness News how they’ve been ostracised from their community and treated as though their home is contaminated after they contracted COVID-19.

At least five members of the family tested positive for the virus and sadly two of them died.

As government works to procure a vaccine to curb the spread of the virus, many families continue to be torn apart.

Zakithi said when he received his COVID-19 results, he was alienated by his community and even some members of his family.

“I remember it being quite painful; I’d just hear a plate at the door and know that my food is ready and when I go to the door, whoever put my plate there is gone. It’s like he is saying, as soon I open the door, they don’t want to be there. I understood it was mostly because they didn’t understand the virus at the time.”

He said his family couldn’t grieve properly as they had to expedite the burial in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

But Khoza said this wasn’t the toughest part: “There’s this perception in society that when someone dies of COVID, they may have COVID forever. You kind of have that sense when people come to your house, they feel it’s contaminated and not want to come in. So, because someone died from COVID, (to them) your house is a COVID hotspot forever.”

Khoza said he’s taken it upon himself to educate those around him about the coronavirus.

He said while he understands how contagious COVID-19 is, South Africans must show humanity to those infected.

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