Whilst studying in town 2003/4 I came to know Long Street. It wasn’t a place I had often visited as I had no reason to be there but that all changed when I spent every week day in the city bowl, usually at Lola’s Cafe with fellow students. During this time, I came to know many town regulars such as the street children “brothers”, I now know are the Aghmat brothers. I also met a well known local lady through a fellow student, who I believe has a heart, potentially thrice the size of normal humans!
Over the years I have ran into her numerous times and always enjoyed chatting to her and hearing about her children and life in town. A year or more ago, she told me that she had opened her home to a street child desperate for nurturing, as he was motherless and a victim of sexual and drug abuse. Risky business in Cape Town but when people asked her, “Ag how can you?” She’d reply, “How CAN’T you?” What a lady.
This weekend I ran into her again at MCQP! It was great to see her again and I asked her how “her” street child was doing? She said, “Well he died on Sunday.” Talk about putting your foot in it! She told me the story of how ill he became, how his body disintegrated over time and how she wasn’t able to keep her promise of taking him to the beach because, instead, she had to ensure he went to hospital. He felt betrayed by her, how ironic.
Initially she thought he had contracted TB and was over the moon when he was NOT diagnosed with TB, but was instead shattered when he was diagnosed with another illness that one does not recover from. Apparently she was not authorised to tell him that the illness that took his mother was the same illness that would take his life this last week.
Although “Zakkie” was a known crack cocaine user, often frequenting the notorious ‘Senator Park’ block of flats (recently shut down) in Long Street, what sickens me is not the fact that he has died from an infamous disease, but rather the drug abuse and child prostitution that enslaved and killed him. The thought that a 16 year old child (who always looked 6 years old no matter how many years passed) contracted a disease through the unspeakable acts of adults, from his pathetic parents to paedophiles and drug dealers, the true story of street children is unimaginable.
R.I.P “Zakkie” Aghmat, may you find relief from this world and peace in the next. My wish is that his older brother may find a better way to live in 2012