PITCH: Strand St & Buitengracht St
We need your help
Siphokazi is constructing a house in the Eastern Cape. She needs building material for the roof. If you would like to assist her, contact The Big Issue office on 021 461 6690 or email email@example.com.
Big Issue vendor Siphokazi Magobiyane has learnt to be resilient and break through limitations, even at times when life’s challenges seemed to get in the way of her reaching her goals.
Word and Image by: Lungisa Mnqwazi
You can tell at first glance that Big Issue vendor Siphokazi Magobiyane is a resilient individual. Hailing from humble beginnings, the 47-year-old mother of three left her Eastern Cape hometown of Butterworth in 1988 after losing both her parents. “When I arrived in Cape Town, I stayed with my grandmother in the notorious township Makhaza, in Khayelitsha. Later, I got my own house in New Crossroads,” says Siphokazi.
Like many single parents, she strives to put food on the table for her children. “I was married to their father, but we divorced, and he has never contributed anything since then. Raising kids on your own is not easy and as they grow older, they need a father figure to advise them.”
Siphokazi forges ahead despite the lack of support from her ex-husband. “We (mothers) should not feel ashamed when we’re abandoned or rejected by our children’s fathers, but rather give our kids the love they deserve,” she says.
Siphokazi joined The Big Issue in 2010 and sells the magazine on the corner of Strand and Buitengracht Street in the CBD of the Mother City. “The Big Issue afforded me the opportunity to be trained as a security guard. This paved the way for me to work at the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) from March 2013 to April 2014,” she says.
Siphokazi returned to selling the magazine shortly thereafter. In 2015, she attended a home-based care course and found employment at Robin Trust, a non-profit organisation specialising in palliative care. She worked at the organisation from 2016 to 2018, but sadly she was forced to leave her job to take care of her 11-year-old daughter, who was hospitalised after suffering a stroke as a result of meningitis.
“Having a sick child is never easy, especially when you don’t have assistance and financial stability. I had to sleep on the benches at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital so that I could be with her. Fortunately, my daughter recovered and is now able to do things on her own. She still attends sessions with social workers to assist her with her schoolwork though,” says Siphokazi.
It has been seven months since Siphokazi started selling The Big Issue again. “When I was working, things were better financially. I now have to provide for my kids from the little that I get from selling the magazine.” Despite the obstacles that have come her way, she continues to persevere and strives to make her life count for the sake of her children.
“Being a mother means that you are independent; you are the pillar of your children’s lives.
“I’m grateful to The Big Issue, because without the organisation, I would not have received the training to qualify as a security guard. It has helped me a lot to ensure that I have a good chance of finding employment,” she concludes.