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Man starves in a tiny cubicle despite social grant

2022-11-16  Efraim Ranjeni

Man starves in a tiny cubicle despite social grant

Loide Jason

Efraim Nanjeni 


A young man whose mental condition is yet to be established has reportedly been living in perpetual isolation, with several community members accusing his family of gross negligence. 

Community members who spoke to New Era on condition of anonymity relayed harrowing tales, including allegations of starvation and neglect. 

This publication has learned that the man, thought to be in his late 20s, lives in Ombili in the capital with his aunt and siblings. 

The 29-year-old Josef Shikongo is being kept alone in a tiny cubicle behind the house that only has a wooden bed without a mattress.

Although he can walk, the man hardly ventures outside, except when he is extremely hungry.



Even then, he seldom ventures beyond the doorstep of his tiny cubicle. According to neighbours, he has for years been in solitary confinement, as if he is not part of the family. 

Both Shikongo’s parents have died.

People in the know say he has not been toilet-trained and sometimes soils himself, to his aunt’s chagrin. To avoid cleaning, the aunt, whom sources say has a mercurial temper, has resolved to keep the amount of food she gives him to the barest minimum.

A neighbour said “the mother believes that if he is given too much food, he will s**t himself, and then she has to clean up.” 

Another community member said Shikongo is registered for a social grant, and receives that money from government. The aunt, who is his guardian, is getting it on his behalf every month. 

“The only time that he is bathed is when she has to take him with her to collect the monthly stipend. Otherwise, he stays in his tiny room without being bathed,” said a close source.

Another community member, who lives close to their house, alleged that the young man’s aunt was extremely superstitious and anti-social.

When New Era visited the house, the aunt Lydia Mbondia came out and sprinkled salt around her shack.

Mbondia, who denied the allegations of negligence, explained that despite the N$1 200 that she is receiving on behalf of Shikongo, the family is struggling with food. 

“I only give him a meal when it is available. It is not easy to take care of such a person. Imagine, you have to do the cleaning all day. He does not have feelings that answer the call of nature. 



He soils himself all day, which is annoying every human being. But despite all that, I always feed him,” she responded to New Era’s queries furiously.

She added that Shikongo sleeps on a bed without a mattress because there is no money to buy a mattress, as the family also has a water debt of N$9 000.

“We are in dire need of help. I have children who attend school. One is in university, and the other two are in primary school. But I am the only one in the family who is looking after this person. What do you expect? What if it was you? It is not easy,” she said before she started accusing the two neighbours seated outside of witchcraft.

She claimed that she is in this dire situation because of people who bewitched her over the business she had in 2017.

She furthermore alleged that Shikongo was born normal, but was allegedly bewitched when he was a baby.

“I don’t know what disability he has. He cannot talk, but he can hear. He can also walk, although not perfectly like any other person. But I know he was bewitched by the same people who bewitched me,” she continued.

A family member who was at home stressed that he is concerned about his aunt’s minimal feeding of Shikongo, a situation that creates tension at home.

“That guy sleeps next to my room. He does not sleep; he beats himself at night and wakes up with sour eyes on his face.


 He needs to eat. I confronted my aunt about it, but she overreacted, and now we are not talking to one another,” he stated.

 Some community members who brought the story to New Era called on the relevant ministries to step in and ensure that the young man gets the necessary support.

“This is a serious issue. The family is neglecting this young man, but I think it is clear that the family is overwhelmed and also needs support in dealing with this challenging situation,” one community member, who does not want to be named, said.


Caption:  (Cubicle 1, 2 and 3) 








2022-11-16  Efraim Ranjeni

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