GUESS WHO’S HERE: President Jacob Zuma, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Deputy Minister in the Presidency Obed Bapela and Joburg mayor Parks Tau joined the elderly people of Alexandra. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE
Yesterday, President Jacob Zuma visited Itlhokomeleng Old Age Centre in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg.
The purpose of the visit was to congratulate the centre on reaching a significant milestone.
Marjorie Manganye, 81, known as the “Mother Theresa of Alex” and the founder of the centre, said she was honoured by the visit. “It was such an honour to have the president on our premises,” she said.
Manganye said she started the centre on her own and she was proud to be recognised for her hard work, especially by the president. “I started Itlhokomeleng in 1978 and it is the first black registered care centre in South Africa,” said Manganye.
Among the dignitaries who accompanied Jacob Zuma to the township was Gauteng Premier Nomvula Makonyane and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau.
Manganye said she was happy about what the president said about the centre. “For the president to say Itlhokomeleng was chosen because of its cleanliness and tidiness was overwhelming. We survived because of team work and the respect we give each other as colleagues,” said Manganye
The residents of the centre said they were happy to be at Itlhokomeleng because it was a home away from home. Hendrick Ntshegang, 84, from Ramokoka in Rustenburg said he felt at home at the centre.
“I have been staying in this place for the past five years and it has become my home. I ended up here in Alex because I did not want to be a nuisance to my children and asked them to find me a place for the elderly.
“My children visit me every weekend so I don’t feel abandoned. I am happy to be here more especially because we were visited by the president today. To some of us it the first time we’ve seen him in person and not on television.”
Ruth Molepo, 43, who is a volunteer at Itlhokomeleng Old Age Centre said she enjoyed working with the elderly because she had an elderly mother herself.
“For me, I treat these people as my own parents. I used to work at Tumelong Care Centre in Tembisa, so this is something I love doing. Other people do not care for their parents and it is our responsibility to give them that love so that they do not feel neglected.”