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Kangai family abandons daughter

by Staff reporter
06 Jul 2017 at 13:36hrs | Views
A woman said to be the daughter of the late liberation war stalwart, Kumbirai Kangai, has been living in a rundown rural mental hospital without any visitors for nearly 40 years now, the Eastern News can report.

Rukariro Rehabilitation Centre, 72 kilometres west of the eastern city, is dilapidated, under-staffed and poorly funded. It has not received any government social services grant for years.

The institution basically survives on the benevolence of its matron and handouts from good Samaritans, who are far and in-between.

A committed group of villagers, who pity the 46 inmates, and 10 children that were born to parents confined at the institution, tends to a gardening project at Rukariro to supplement its income.

The story of Era Kangai, believed to be the daughter of the former Cabinet minister, who died in August 2013 and was declared a national hero, is heartrending.

She was checked into the mental institution way back in 1979. This was the period when her alleged father was fighting to remove the brutal Ian Smith regime from power.

An account that could not be verified with Kangai's surviving children is that the late national hero had Era with a woman who also took up arms at the later stages of the liberation struggle, but no one knows her whereabouts.

Kangai operated in Mozambique and was a member of Dare Rechimurenga.

Back then, Rukariro Rehabilitation Centre was still located at Sakubva District Hospital.

In years that followed, the centre was moved to its current remote location after its old premises at Sakubva District Hospital were condemned by the ministry of Health and Child Care.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa and the special advisor to the president, Timothy Stamps, led the condemnation in 2013.

"This is a prison," Parirenyatwa said then, upon entry into a small cubical that was used as a holding cell.

Stamps was more scathing in his condemnation.

He was quoted wondering aloud during the tour of the facility: "There was a lot of money that was provided for psychiatric care after the war . . . this should be a museum of what the Rhodesians did for us."

The matron, Everjoice Musasa, confirmed Era's family ties.

"Yes, Era is the late Kumbirai Kangai's daughter, but I have never heard from his family over the past 37 years that she has been in rehabilitation," Musasa said.

She said Era is the only patient they know of in the institution whose family is known.

"We don't know the families of the rest of the patients. While some are from Mozambique, most of them are clearly of Zimbabwean descent," Musasa said.

Her patients are often brought into the institution by ambulances from the ministry of Health and Child Care and their relatives never get to check on them.

"Because of the stigma related to mental health, people do not look for their mentally ill relatives once they go missing. I would like to call upon everyone who has a missing relative to come through and look at these people," Musasa said.

Musasa never takes an off day and is herself a permanent resident at the asylum.

So committed is Musasa that she would not give up any of the 10 children at the institution for adoption because of the strong attachment she has forged with them.

But looking at their situation, the children could do well in an orphanage.

"I nursed most of these children from infancy and I consider them my children and treat them as such," Musasa said.

The aging psychiatric nurse, who never had children of her own and has no love life, is content with giving her life to the mental patients.

"I'm happy as I'm and these are my family," she said.

"We have not had any government grant in a while and I move around in Mutare asking companies to assist. Arabs and Indians have been very generous and have consistently been supporting us," she said.

Ironically, the institution is Manicaland's sole psychiatric health detention institution.

The absence of a psychiatric hospital in the eastern border city has resulted in mental health patients roaming the streets, endangering both their lives and others.

In fact, one of the inmates from Rukariro Rehabilitation Centre died a tragic death last year after she was run over by a vehicle in the city centre.

She had gone into the city with a group of locals who wanted to attend a church conference.

She was survived by her three children who were without any known relatives.

Source - dailynews