After publishing an article on Thursday, 29 April 2020, centering on a wheelchair-bound, homeless man surviving the streets of Newcastle, his gut-wrenching story travelling far and wide, concerning comments poured in from you, our loyal Newcastillians.
The comments sections on the site and our various social pages piled up with people stating how this man can walk and is a drug-soaked charlatan taking people for a ride. Naturally, this led to great concern, considering our initial article aimed at highlighting the beggar’s difficulties as a disabled individual forced to live on the street, hoping to see more people assist him. But with all this new information coming to light, we did a bit of digging to empower you with information on Thokozani.
A store owner who runs a business on Voortrekker Street, a stone’s throw away from where Thokozani begs, says, “I have seen him walking, and he collects money to buy drugs.” With the shop owner and several others claiming that the beggar has been seen taking drugs in a nearby alley on numerous occasions, a police source has since confirmed Thokozani has indeed been spotted with drugs. He further states, “He has also been arrested before for obstructing traffic, with people reporting him to the police because of the danger he poses.”
Allegations have been made that Thokozani is also selling the wheelchairs donated to him by generous Non-Profit Organisations and local businesses. Speaking out on their experience, Mbuthweni Bakery in Madadeni has confirmed it has attempted to assist Thokozani at a steep cost. “We saw him struggling with an old wheelchair with no wheels, and he was begging. So we came to the decision to give back to the community by helping him,” the bakery’s management states.
Furthermore, the management says, Thokozani claimed he had no ID and was hungry. A brand-new wheelchair and clothing were then bought for him. The bakery also attempted to take him home and reunite him with his family. However, the owner of Mbuthweni Bakery claims he was dismayed a few weeks later when he saw another person using the wheelchair he had bought for Thokozani.
Days later, he saw Thokozani in town and tried to approach him. “When I tried to stop and look for parking, he ran away. I was surprised and heartbroken.” The Mbuthweni Bakery team eventually saw the beggar near his current location, and when they approached him, he told them to “F” off. As more and more people come forward, pointing out that Thokozani is not who he claims to be, The Newcastillian – Online News went back to the homeless man to establish what he had to say about the claims.
Upon approaching him on Saturday, 1 May 2021, he attempted to ignore the editor. However, when the editor’s presence hampered his attempts at working cash from the community, he caved in and agreed to speak.
When questioned on the allegations of him being able to walk, he immediately tensed up and looked away. “I told you there are people who said I can walk, but it is not true,” he declared.
But when it was pointed out that numerous people from various sectors had seen him walk, he attempted to manoeuvre himself away. However, due to the traffic flow on Saturday morning, he could not leave without getting off his wheelchair. He defensively denied the accusations and refused to say anything further on the topic, except, “If people see me walking, then why do they not take photos of me?” Therefore, if you see him walk, please take a picture and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
When pressed on the allegations of drug usage, he denied the accusations of using nyaope ( a mixture of poor quality heroin and antiretroviral medication), this, despite eyewitnesses seeing him use narcotics in a nearby alley. Thokozani’s only response was, “The only thing I smoke is Ganga and cigarettes.”
As for the allegations of him selling his wheelchairs, he could not provide suitable answers and refused to make eye contact, mumbling under his breath. When asked how he went through three wheelchairs in one year, all he could say was, “I need a new wheelchair often, as the wheels never last long on the streets.” Yet when referring to research published on ResearchGate, these medical tools are more robust than some might imagine. “Survival analysis revealed that after 4 years of use, 50% of wheelchairs were still functioning.” This was based on sixty patients.
Sadly, he had nothing more to say, and our conversation concluded. Yet, this still leaves you and I in a strange place. Is he lying, or are people mistaken? What are your thoughts on the matter?
Share your views in the comment section below.