• Eastern Cape Rising Sun

Queenstown native restores child’s dignity

The photograph of the six-year-old Grade R pupil circulated on social media that got Gavin's attention.

By Khuthala Nandipha

Ezibeleni born Construction boss Gavin Khungwayo dropped everything when he saw a little girl being mocked on social media for wearing oversized torn school uniform on her first day at Monyebodi primary school in Limpopo.

“On Monday morning I woke up at 4am for my daily prayer. Soon after I logged onto social media, the first thing I saw was a Meme of this impoverished girl. I could not believe that adults were making fun of her. I immediately put up a R5 000 reward for anyone who could find her for me,” says the 40 something-year-old father who is based in Johannesburg.

He says seeing that photo after his prayer, he saw it as a sign that he must help her.

“I got all my employees to drop everything and focus on finding this girl. We got a call from Matatiele, a lady claiming that she is the neighbour and that the girl’s mother is mentally unstable and she lives with her granny. I immediately sent R5 000, only to find out that it was a scam.”

One of his team members found the girl in Limpopo on the same day and he drove through the night and stayed over. “I was so excited I could not wait for sunrise to go to the school. What pains me the most is that her teacher posted that photo to get her help, not to be mocked by grown people that have children of their own. The teacher told me that when the girl walked into the class, all the kids burst out in laughter.”

When he arrived at the dilapidated school founded in 1924, he said there were 15 other children that were in dire need of clothes and food. He decided to fund all of them but paid special focus to the girl he had been searching for.

Her mother was called to come to the school and together they went on a shopping spree for casual and school clothes. Her hair, he says had been burnt by chemicals and dye, so he took her for treatment and a haircut. The little girl chose the hairstyle adorned by Miss Universe, Zozibini Tunzi. He also bought a bakkie full of groceries for the family. Khungwayo, on his Facebook, tagged the photo, “Miss World”.

He pledged to take care of her all her school trip needs and education post matric. He made a deal with the local barber to cut her hair for as long as she wants and send him the invoice.

Johannesburg bikers and a close friend of Khungwayo, a business owner in Melville, Ebrahim Asmal has since pledged R10 000 for the renovation of the school.

The Department of Education in Limpopo has sent its infrastructure unit to assess the state of the school and has promised that renovations will begin soon, according to school principal Temaswati Dlamini.

“The children in this area are suffering. During the recent rains, the principal says some children broke into the school for a place to sleep because they are homeless. Apparently, some sleep in the toilets. This broke my heart,” he recalls. “I cried, from sadness and excitement that at least a few children will be assisted by people who saw my post about the school, not just this child,” said the Queenstown native.

Khungwayo has been helping children from disadvantaged families for about 10 years, focussing on orphans and children who have been abused. He has helped place many in orphanages and assisted them with birth certificates to ensure that they go to school.

“I don’t have a system to choose, I help kids that I come across during a time when I have the means. I love kids and I have kids of own,” said Khungwayo.

Queenstown native, Gavin Khungwayo with the girl after the makeover.


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