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Stowaway from South Africa to Heathrow has been Granted Asylum



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Themba Cabeka, 30, recalls: ‘When the plane was flying, I could see the ground, I could see the cars, I could see small people. After a little time, I passed out through lack of oxygen. The last thing I remember just after the plane took off was Carlito saying to me: “Yeah, we’ve made it.” ’

South Africa is the most advanced economy in Africa and also the second largest economy in the continent, however, the Land of Mandela is still struggling to address the issues of poverty, especially among the black people.

Apartheid controlled government, which officially ended in 1994 had systematically deprived South African blacks from the common wealth of the nation.

Nearly half the adult population of South Africa lives in poverty. The South African government measures poverty by three threshold points. The upper-bound poverty line (UBPL) indicates an income of 1,183 Rand ($70.90) per month. On the other hand, the lower-bound and food poverty lines indicate incomes of 785 Rand ($47.04) and 547 Rand ($32.78) respectively.

According to the Department of Statistics in South Africa, 49.2% of the population over the age of 18 falls below the upper-bound poverty line. The government has worked to address poverty levels mainly through a program called the New Growth Path (NGP). This policy works to support small businesses through financing and enhancing multiple sectors of the economy. NGP also aims to expand public work projects to ensure that more individuals will have access to consistent income.

Cabeka, who never knew his father and was abandoned by his mother when he was three months old, had been living since the age of seven in a campsite near Johannesburg Airport.

He said the violence and gang warfare in the city had left him emotionally broken. ‘My background was very hard. I was raised by my cousin, who adopted me as a child. Everything was normal until she passed away. I was going to school but I had to drop out because I couldn’t pay the fees.

The stowaway who clung to the undercarriage of a jumbo jet and survived an 11-hour, 5,639-mile flight from South Africa to London has spoken for the first time of his terrifying journey.

He recalled how he emerged from a coma months later to learn his best friend had fallen 5,000ft from the aircraft to his death.

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