'God won't let me die like this': Makhosi Luthuli

18 February 2018 - 00:00 By SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER

She was once the darling of the soccer world, a sporting star South Africa could not get enough of.
Today, former Banyana Banyana midfielder Makhosi Luthuli - who has a massive cancerous tumour on her face - is broke and fighting a lone battle.
"When I look in the mirror I tell myself I wasn't born like this, so God won't let me die like this."
These are the daily words of encouragement that Luthuli, 45, affords herself as she struggles to cope with the salivary gland tumour that has made it difficult for her to breathe or eat and has affected her vision and hearing.
The Durban mother of one, who played for the national women's team between 1997 and 2005, now has no home, no car and only a precarious income.
Luthuli relies on state medical care and is receiving chemotherapy to keep the cancer from spreading.
"Years ago I was a soccer star and everyone wanted to be around me. But when I was faced with this situation everyone left."
She said she had received no help from the South African Football Association (Safa) or the Department of Sport.
Safa spokesman Dominic Chimhavi said the body had only learnt about Luthuli's plight this week."We have forwarded all her documents to our insurers. We are looking into the issue. It came to our attention this week."
Luthuli's tumour, which began developing in 2011, has not stopped her from sharing her passion for soccer with underprivileged children in Marianhill, outside Durban, where she runs her Future Stars Sports Academy thanks to the goodwill of sponsors.
"I don't have much but I still have my soccer skills, which I use to help the young people at my academy. I want to be normal again, that's my wish. I want to look in the mirror and see a normal Makhosi."
Now hope for Luthuli has come in the form of a R100,000 donation from businessman Sandile Zungu, who stepped forward after Durban mayor Zandile Gumede appealed for assistance on her behalf.
The money will go towards her medical expenses and transport costs. A Johannesburg doctor has also offered a consultation.
Gumede said she had been moved by Luthuli's plight after the soccer star reached out to her.
"She came to my office for help. I am so happy she will be able to see the necessary specialists and get help," the mayor said.
An account has been set up in Luthuli's name for donations.
"I have been contacted by a cancer specialist doctor in Johannesburg who reached out after seeing my social media post about Makhosi's plight," Gumede said.
Luthuli called the donation from Zungu a "blessing".
"It's been hard for me. I don't have medical aid, I don't have a house or a car. I live with family in Marianhill."
Apart from her physical challenges, Luthuli has had to shield herself from curious stares and cruel remarks.
"People, children especially, tease me. Some are curious, some even ask me whether somebody beat me," she said.
"People feel bad when they see my face, some are scared.
"I have difficulty breathing, I can't see clearly in my left eye and it has also affected my hearing.
"My gums are swelling and I'm losing teeth ... I eat mostly soft food."
Luthuli has to cover her face with a scarf when she goes out.
"When I look in the mirror I tell myself God will take me out of this situation.
"After this donation, I told myself the old Makhosi will be back now. I'm waiting for that doctor, who is sent by God, to make me normal again."
Zungu said he had made the donation, through the Zodwa Zungu Foundation, in line with a personal pledge to do something extraordinary every year on his birthday. Luthuli received the cheque on Zungu's 51st birthday.
"I am happy to be able to help Makhosi as she has represented South Africa at the highest level in football and now suffers from this sickness which seeks to destroy her beauty."
Zungu challenged other businessmen and health professionals help Luthuli.

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