PITCH: M3, Newlands, Cape Town, 7700, South Africa
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Big Issue vendor Joseph Klink longs to be at his pitch and interact with his valued customers. We spoke to him halfway through the national lockdown.
Words: Lungisa Mnqwazi Image by: Supplied
The last time Big Issue vendor Joseph Klink was away from his pitch in Hout Bay for any length of time was a few years ago when he was hospitalised due to an illness. Six weeks into the national lockdown instituted by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Joseph is trying to make the most of an unavoidable situation.
The 67-year-old father, grandfather and great-grandfather lives on his own in a retirement village in Bonteheuwel. While he is thankful for the protection of his own home, he misses his fellow vendors and customers. “I have never been away from my pitch and customers for this long; it was only when I was in hospital the last time. To be honest, it is quite boring being at home watching television the whole day. I feel that I have to work, that’s what the Bible teaches us,” he says.
If he had the opportunity, Joseph would return to his pitch in a heartbeat. However, he feels strongly that everyone should adhere to the government’s regulations to stay indoors during the lockdown. “It is tough being alone and without an income from selling magazines, but we must submit to the authorities and obey the laws of the country. Not being able to sell the magazine is a big financial loss, as I only have my pension, which is not much,” he says.
As The Big Issue’s longest-selling vendor (he has been at his pitch for 23 years), Joseph has forged a special relationship with his customers. “They will always enquire about my health and wish me well. My customers also know that they can trust me and that I am a man of integrity. If someone hands me R205, thinking it’s R25, I will always let them know. They appreciate this about me,” he says.
In the meantime, Joseph stays motivated through his daily prayers, listening to gospel music on his radio and staying in touch with his nine children, 23 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. “They call me regularly to hear how I’m doing and I’m always delighted to speak to them. Just the other day, one of my great- grandchildren reminded me to buy him some instant noodles. Hearing their voices makes my day,” he adds.
Encouraging his fellow vendors to stay indoors, Joseph says it’s important that everyone takes care so that they can all return to their pitches when the lockdown comes to an end. “We are all part of one family and we need each other. I miss The Big Issue staff, too, and wish them well during this time.”
He also has a message for his customers. “Submit to the authorities and follow the lockdown regulations. Continue to trust in God and pray that He will give us the strength to overcome the virus during this time. We need to care for one another, especially the children in our communities,” he says.
Asked how his customers can support him during the lockdown, Joseph concludes, “The most important thing I need from them is their continued love. Yes, my supplies are running low, but I am trusting that God will get me through this.”