A mute, severely disabled and starving 27-year-old woman Roxy was rescued for a second time in just one week from a dark, rat-infested hellhole in Booysen Park, Port Elizabeth last week.
Herald Live health journalist Estelle Ellis recounts the worst case of abuse she says she has ever seen in her 23-year career.
Roxy suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy and is mute.
It is believed she has been locked in a backyard shack for two years with little water or food.
Her mother served prison time after using her disabled daughter as a drug mule, hiding the narcotics in the young woman's diapers.
But she was released from prison in order to take care of Roxy after the home she was staying in burned down.
The mother and her boyfriend went on drunken sprees, leaving her alone for days.— Estelle Ellis, Journalist - Herald Live
When she was rescued and brought outside the shack, neighbours saw her for the first time.
There were maggots coming out of her mouth.— Estelle Ellis, Journalist - Herald Live
She was found eating dry raw rice out of a packet lying next to her on the bed.— Estelle Ellis, Journalist - Herald Live
Ellis says neighbours saw many men entering the shack, whose door did not close properly, and authorities are investigating whether she was sexually abused.
Ellis says her clothes were filthy and suspects she wore them for months on end.
No charges have been brought against Roxy's mother. Ellis says the law regarding the protection of adult disabled people from abuse in South Africa is negligible
When you are an adult disabled person there is almost nothing they can do when you are being abused.— Estelle Ellis, Journalist - Herald Live
Police and NGOs are now involved and Roxy was treated in hospital. But upon her release ended up back in the shack with her mother and was soon back in a state of neglect.
Ellis reports that the Hilary Bolton of Cheshire Homes for the disabled made contact and has given Roxy a place in the home.
She is now in a sunny room and is eating well. The citizens of Port Elizabeth have generously donated clothing and food for the young woman who looks like she is 12-years old., so malnourished she has become.
She is doing so well and she is eating a lot, has clean bedding and clean pajamas.— Estelle Ellis, Journalist - Herald Live
She says the most touching thing to come out of this is that Roxy is laughing. This, despite the rescuers and care worker believing she was not capable of emotion.
Listen to this emotional and moving interview below:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Mute, severely disabled woman rescued from PE rat-infested hell