Lindiwe Zulu: ‘At 16 I already had two kids. Don’t make my mistake’

Lindiwe Zulu: ‘At 16 I already had two kids. Don't make my mistake'
SHINING EXAMPLE: Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu has used a Covid-19 monitoring exercise in Middelburg to share with homeless people her story of triumph over adversity. PICTURE BY EWN

She visited the Mpumalanga province Sunday 24 May 2020 to monitor shelters that are housing the homeless during this time of Covid-19.

Social development minister Lindiwe Zulu has told homeless people in Middelburg over the weekend that she got her second baby at the age of 16, disappointing her grandparents who were raising her through hardship and called on others not to repeat a similar mistake.

Zulu said she pitied the homeless for the situation they have found themselves in but wanted them to do like she did, and not give up.

She visited a temporary shelter for people living on the streets in Middelburg as well as a Child and Youth Care Centre to monitor compliance with Covid-19 safety measures.

The Middelburg shelter is one of 163 shelters that the department had set up since President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster towards the end of March 2020 to contain the spread of the respiratory disease and offer food, psychological support and other basic necessities. 

The relief effort has seen over 14 000 homeless people being assisted.


Speaking in isiZulu, she told the homeless that she pitied them to have found themselves in the situation they are in, especially the youth and asked them to not give up.

“I pity you because you find yourselves in this situation, especially the youngsters. 

“But if you must know I myself got pregnant before the age of 16  and quickly got another baby when I was 16 and I disappointed my grandmother who was taking care of us through hardship,” she said.

Zulu was born on 21 April 1958 in the Mpumalanga village of Nhlazatshe, east of Badplaas, before they were forced to relocate to Madadeni, Newcastle in KZN before going to Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola and Russia for ANC anti-Apartheid activism, ideological and military training.

In exile Zulu would attend the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College (SOMAFCO) in Mazimbu, Tanzania and thereafter gained a scholarship to study journalism in the Soviet Union. She spent seven years in Moscow, achieving a master’s degree in Journalism and also became fluent in Russian.

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Zulu said from her blunder, she learnt the hard way and then learnt to find and redirect herself towards something serious about her future, which was a “focus on education,” the mother of four said. 

“Look here I am today, a minister and have actively participated in the liberation of the country,” Zulu told the homeless during the monitoring visit.

“If I did it, you can do it too and work your way up towards reuniting with your families and playing a meaningful role in society,” she told them.

Over 14 000 homeless people are currently being assisted by government across the country in temporary shelters.

In Middelburg, the accommodation has 63 people, which include 5 females and 58 males.  

(edited by ZK)

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