South Africans come to the aid of father of four who lost wife during child birth
South Africans have opened their hearts and wallets to a father of newborn twin girls whose wife died while giving birth.
Just more than R160,000 had been raised to assist Sam Nonyane raise his children as a single parent.
When Nonyane took his pregnant wife to hospital in January, he anticipated he would return home with a mother and baby. Little did they know she was expecting twins and that she would lose her life after delivering the second surprise baby.
“I am getting better, but it is not easy,” Nonyane told TimesLIVE on Tuesday.
“It was unexpected. All I knew was that I would go home with my wife and we would raise our child together,” he added.
Nonyane said his wife played an important role in their family and he was grappling with raising four children on his own, with the help of family.
“I was scared and heartbroken after hearing that my wife had died, but I told myself that I will not run away from my children. [I knew] it would not be easy, but I want to feel the pain that my wife felt when she was pregnant for nine months ...” he said.
While Nonyane battled with the news, he had to explain to his other children, aged three and six, what had transpired. They had accompanied their parents to hospital to witness the birth.
After the tragedy, the family made a stop at the Cradlestone Mall, before heading home. Nonyane held the newborn twins, Mmadi and Kgopotso, in his arms while his elder children pushed the trolley, collecting baby items.
The girls names hold deep meaning. Mmadi means blood and Kgopotso loosely translates to remembrance.
It was on that shopping trip that Nonyane caught the attention of a good Samaritan, Allet Van Zyl.
“I saw this man walking past with two bundles of joy and wondered where their mother was ... I wondered if I should just go and greet or not, as some people would take offence,” Van Zyl told TimesLIVE.
She plucked up the courage to walk up to Nonyane and asked to see the newborns. Afterwards, she asked about their mother.
The grieving father said: “My wife passed away while giving birth ma'am.”
Van Zyl said she was shattered and asked to take photographs of him and the children to post on a local community group to get him assistance.
After receiving a few donation, Van Zyl felt she could do more.
She took the post to Facebook and soon it went viral, being shared thousands of times.
“Pledges have been pouring in since then. My initial target was to get the babies prams, car seats, food and clothing, but we have since received more. People have been really generous. The amount of support they’ve shown is just unbelievable,” said Van Zyl.
Among other donations, Nonyane received R50,000 from The Angel Network SA, a non-profit organisation. An anonymous donor pledged R5,000 for 10 months for the children and Dis-Chem pledged R3,000 for 10 months. Nonyane also received R10,000 worth of nappies from Cuddlers and R20,000 worth of vouchers from Cradlestone Mall.
The family said duplicated items would be donated to charity.
Van Zyl, reflecting on her childhood, explained what had made her help the grieving dad: “I know what it's like to struggle, to be without anyone, to go to bed on a hungry stomach.”
She, too, recently experienced tragedy — her husband died two years ago. She is now alone, taking care of her son, who was involved in a major car accident in 1998. It left him disabled and she was forced to resign from work to take care of him.
Van Zyl said these incidents changed her outlook on life.
Meanwhile, Nonyane expressed gratitude to all those who had contributed and mostly Van Zyl.
“If it wasn’t for mam Allet I don’t know where I would be, what my children would be having ... I am thankful to everyone. Their kindness is keeping me going,” he said.