Change is in your pocket

The Big Issue is a socially responsible non-profit organisation that enables willing unemployed and marginalised adults to take responsibility for their own lives through a developmental employment programme.
PITCH:  Somerset Mall, Somerset West
AGE:  29

SHOOTING FROM THE HIP

I used to work for a carpentry company in Epping called Woodland. I didn’t like the job, but I stuck to it because it meant I could provide for myself and my family at the end of the day.

Siphamandla Mthwa

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Words and Photography by Yonga Balfour

Siphamandla, who fellow Big Issue entrepreneurs refer to as S’pha, started selling the magazine in 2017. He claims to have been all around the city trying to find the best pitch to make good sales without any luck.

When I joined The Big Issue, I thought we got told where to sell the magazine, but I realised that one has to find their own pitch to sell. I went all around Cape Town city centre, Tyger Valley and Stellenbosch until I landed in Somerset West,” says S’pha.

I remember my first day in Somerset; I had about 10 magazines and they were sold in less than three hours. That’s when I knew that was the pitch for me. Travelling to the pitch isn’t much trouble because I travel from Mfuleni, so it’s a bit closer than Cape Town. It would be far if I was travelling from the city to Somerset West.”

 Before The Big Issue

S’pha went to school in Cape Town and has work experience in the carpentry and construction industries.

I used to work for a carpentry company in Epping called Woodland. I didn’t like the job, but I stuck to it because it meant I could provide for myself and my family at the end of the day. I was more fascinated by the welding department at the company; it’s a skill I would really love to learn. I liked that one gets to create and shape metal objects into something useful.

In 2014, the company had to close down and I was left jobless after having worked there for six years. Between 2014 and 2017, I worked odd jobs in construction. I decided to join The Big Issue for something more stable,” he says.

When he’s not at his pitch, S’pha likes to spend time with his older brother who took care of him after the siblings lost their parents. Otherwise, he spends time with his wife and two daughters, aged six and two.

S’pha adds that he would like to do a short course in welding, as being a welder is his dream job. If you can help with this in any way, please contact The Big Issue.

We Need Your Help

The Big Issue appeals to all public space and shopping mall owners, managers, and operators in the greater Cape Metro area to allow our vendors to sell magazines at their sites. It can be hazardous and physically exhausting to sell The Big Issue at traffic light intersections, especially during winter. We would like to see more vendors selling the magazine in a safer environment. Email md@bigissue.org.za to become involved.

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