Change the world

22/07/2020

“If it is my time to die, I accept.” But it was not Nelson Mandela University staff member Simamkele Kali’s time to die, and she is now on a quest to share her story as a means of encouraging others to take the dangers of the COVID-19 virus seriously. 
She is also appealing for people not to stigmatise those who have contracted the virus.
 
Kali, 32, is one of more than 39 Mandela University staff members who have recovered from the coronavirus to date.
 
The young mother was working online from her Mount Pleasant home in her role as personal assistant to the University’s Dean of Students, Luthando Jack, when she first felt unwell with flu-like symptoms on 19 June.
 
“Apart from the flu, I was losing my sense of smell. My husband, Xolani, had had a bad bout of flu a few days earlier,” recalled Sima.
 
That same Friday evening the couple took themselves to Netcare Greenacres Hospital but were asked to return the following Monday as there was a five-hour waiting period and beds were already full.
 
“It was a nightmare at the hospital. I was feeling dreadful, so on the advice of medical staff we went home.”
 
Sima’s symptoms drastically worsened over the weekend.
 
“I experienced shortness of breath and was vomiting. When we got to the hospital on Monday my temperature was 38.9. I was immediately put on a nebuliser to try to stabilise my breathing.”
 
Sima was tested and her results were returned positive the same day. The doctor suggested she isolate at home for the next 14 days. 
 
For eight of those 14 painful days, Sima battled with “unbearable pain”, presenting most of the common COVID-19 symptoms – body aches, a dry cough, a high temperature, shortness of breath and night sweats. 
 
“I got to a point where I said to the Lord, if it is my time to die, I accept it. I said these words because of the sharp pains in my chest. I could not take it anymore. However, it was not yet my time,” said Sima.
 
While Sima’s parents took care of the couple’s five-year-old son, Xolani took care of his wife. 
 
“I am so grateful for Xolani’s care. It affected him negatively too as we isolated together.”
 
Xolani, who works at the municipality, had tested positive too, but apart from an initial bout of flu, had suffered no further symptoms.
 
Sima is also grateful to friends and family who were in regular contact, and for technology that allowed this – and enabled her to talk to her son, Bubuncwane, whenever she felt well enough. 
 
Isolation for Sima and Xolani ended on 6 July, and she is working again, remotely from home.
 
“I am sharing my story so that others can be made aware of how real it is. We need to educate each other as to the guidelines and for people not to stigmatize COVID-19.  
 
“Stigmatising those with COVID-19 can lead to elevated depression symptoms.  To fight the virus, we need to be mentally positive.
 
“The reason I managed to beat COVID-19 is because I was disciplined. I took the prescribed medicine, said Sima.
 
And, she added, “I am still practicing social distancing, wearing my mask and sanitising my hands all the time.” 
 
 

Contact information
Ms Simamkele Sam
PA to Mr Luthando Jack
Tel: 041-504 2221
simamkele.sam2@mandela.ac.za