Dorothy Sevako, 61, cannot remember the last time she had a memorable Christmas. When hundreds of Batswana celebrate with family members and the air is thick with sweet aromas of pounded beef, Sevako is usually sitting under a shade with her two children wondering where their next meal will come from.
Walking with the aid of crutches, Sevako revealed to The Voice that she comes from a very poor family and has spent most of her time as a maid.
Her real troubles however began when her husband passed away in 2005. With no money to pay rent, she risked being kicked out of a house she has lived in since 1996. She found herself homeless with no shoulder to lean on.
However the landlord allowed her to stay for free and even made her the overseer of the plot in Old Naledi. The plot had four houses with the other three occupied by tenants.
When the landlord relocated overseas to live with her husband and needed somebody she could trust to look after the yard, she turned to Sevako.
“After sometime in 2008 she asked me if I was interested in buying the plot as she no longer wanted it. Of course I said yes but I did not have the P50 000 she was asking for.”
Excited that she would soon own her own plot which had four medium cost structures, Sevako moved heaven and earth to source the required funds.
“After hitting a dead end I approached the ward councillor who was also the Deputy Mayor and asked him to lend me the money which I promised to pay back with rental collections,” she recalls.
“I trusted him and he promised to help,” she said.
However unbeknown to Sevako the politician went behind her back; tricked the landlord and bought the plot for himself instead.
“I only realized that something was wrong when I was handed an eviction notice a few months later. The new owner of the house was the man I had asked help from,” she recalled.
What ensued from there were endless legal proceedings that took their toll on the poor woman.
“A lot of people kept telling me that I was wasting my time as the Deputy Mayor had money for lawyers and sheriffs to make my life a living hell,” said the distraught Sevako.
“Some people even warned me that he will use traditional doctors to get rid of me,” she said.
In 2008 Sevako had a car accident. She lost her teeth, broke her foot and has been using crutches up to date.
“My foot was operated on and screws were inserted to support it,” she said.
“Since I had the car accident which up to this day I believe was an act of witchcraft, I never talked to that man. I was afraid that he would kill me,” she said.
“I don’t even want to look at that house,” she said.
Five years after losing what could have been her way out of poverty, Sevako is living on government handouts.
Her daughter has recently failed form three while the other one works for Ipelegeng- a government poverty eradication scheme. The three rent an P800 a month house in Mogoditshane.
“My biggest worry is that when I die my kids will be worse than paupers,”
“I just hope my family will not sleep on empty stomachs this Christmas,” said Sevako.