An anonymous donor has pledged R120,000 towards a crowdfunding campaign to alleviate the plight of former Robben Island prisoners who have little access to support or medical care.
It all began with a heartfelt plea from oncology navigator Alice Banze and Sandy Lewis, who heads up therapeutic services for a hospital group, to assist 72-year-old Harold Matsididi who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Touched by her patient’s despair, Banze set about to find a way to restore some hope in Matsididi’s life.
The crowdfunding campaign explains the situation as follows:
“As a child, Harold was living in Alexandra Township where he was witness to and a victim of the violent, forced removal of the Alex community to Soweto. This event prompted an interest in the political events of the time.
“At one stage, he was arrested by the security police for being in the possession of weapons. This led to 13 months in detention during which he was severely tortured.
“Eventually, Harold was sent to Robben Island and only released in 1990. His entire youth and his formative years (29 years in total) were spent at war or in prison.”
According to Lewis, who launched the Backabuddy crowdfunding campaign, their efforts to help Matsididi also led to them establishing a support group for him and 11 of his fellow Robben Island prison inmates, all of whom are in the same situation that he is in – traumatised, marginalised, poor, with failing health and little access to medical care, but with a strong sense of loyalty, camaraderie and friendship.
Besides the crowdfunding campaign for the men’s various living expenses, the support group meets on a monthly basis.
The money is intended to help the former inmates with access to medical care, trauma counselling, food, transport to the group meetings, as well as hospital or other medical appointments.
In donating the money, the anonymous donor commented: “The prize of our freedom”.
A “shocked” Lewis said last Friday that the impact the donation will make on the lives’ of the struggling men was priceless to them all, News24 reported.