Unakho Kewana

Unakho Kewana. Image via Unakho Kewana Facebook

Load shedding destroys teenager’s soul, dies from lung failure

“Load shedding makes it difficult for me to fill up my oxygen cylinder”: Teenager Unakho Kewana revealed before dying from lung failure.

Unakho Kewana

Unakho Kewana. Image via Unakho Kewana Facebook

An East London teenager Unakho Kewana, who relied on an electricity-powered oxygen supply to stay alive has died from lung failure. The family reveal that load shedding destroyed her soul.  

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The 18-year-old teenager Unakho Kewana, who died from lung failure on Wednesday (9 November) took to social media in October to appeal for a solar-powered oxygen supply in order to beat load shedding.   

News24 reports that Kewana, who dropped out of grade 9 in 2019 because of the illness died at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital on Wednesday from long-term lung complications.   

Doctors told her family that the teenager had also been suffering from depression, close friends believe the depression was caused by load shedding.  

Kewana reportedly hated being rushed to the hospital for oxygen support every time there were power cuts in her NU13 Mdantsane area.    

Her aunt Ntombizanele Kwenane told the publication:   

“We knew the load shedding schedule and whenever it was close to the scheduled hour for the power to cut off, [she] would panic and start sweating and shaking because so many things could go wrong. She knew that should she not make it on time to hospital in NU6, she would take her last breath.”  

“All of this was too stressful for Unakho and the entire family. Her oxygen used too much electricity too and we would struggle to buy it. The frequent power cuts really destroyed her soul. She stopped eating normally in mid-October because the issue of power cuts was really getting to her”.  

Her aunt added that her niece recently saw a patient on oxygen support die in front of her in the hospital, which affected her emotional state too.  


Petros Majola, who aimed to get Unakho Kewana a sponsored solar-power oxygen supply and is the director at the Children’s rights advocacy group Khula Community Development Project has called on the government to fix the energy crisis, saying load shedding was destroying lives.  

He tells News24 that a businesswoman in Mthatha and a generator company in East London had been planning to donate a new generator at the time of Unakho’s death.  

“The power cuts had a negative impact on Unakho’s emotional well-being because every time the load shedding neared she cried. Eskom should understand that the implementation of load shedding is causing a lot of damage to lives and livelihoods.”  

It is believed her family is struggling to bury her and hopes the public can assist. Unakho will be buried next Saturday (19 November). 

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