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Family Copes with Schizophrenia in South Africa

  • Darren Taylor
A mother and her son are locked in a desperate battle against schizophrenia in a district in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. The son, Sisa Petelo, has symptoms that include paranoia, aggression and even violence. Petelo is being cared for at the only facility in the area that shelters the mentally ill. In many isolated parts of South Africa it’s not recognized as a medical condition, and those with the illness are shunned.
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Charity Petelo [left], with her son, Sisa, a person living with schizophrenia at the Ikhaya Loxolo home in Hobeni, South Africa (VOA/ D. Taylor)
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Charity Petelo [left], with her son, Sisa, a person living with schizophrenia at the Ikhaya Loxolo home in Hobeni, South Africa (VOA/ D. Taylor)

The home’s director, Alex Gunther, acknowledges that her facility is “inadequate” for Sisa … But he has nowhere else to go in the region (VOA/ D. Taylor)
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The home’s director, Alex Gunther, acknowledges that her facility is “inadequate” for Sisa … But he has nowhere else to go in the region (VOA/ D. Taylor)

Looking at pictures in books is one of the few activities that Sisa is willing to engage in (VOA/ D. Taylor)
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Looking at pictures in books is one of the few activities that Sisa is willing to engage in (VOA/ D. Taylor)

Hobeni elder Mama ka Blondie says the community is “terrified” of Sisa (VOA/ D. Taylor)
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Hobeni elder Mama ka Blondie says the community is “terrified” of Sisa (VOA/ D. Taylor)

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