Words: Alicia English Image by: Supplied
It has been almost two months since vendor Sabela Manqungqulu passed away, and Big Issue staff and his fellow vendors still remember his wonderful smile. Sabela, who used
to sell the magazine at the intersection of Main and Gordan streets in Somerset West, passed away on 7 July 2020 after an illness. He was buried in the Eastern Cape on 18 July.
Big Issue social worker Nicky Asher- Pedro remembers Sabela as a peace- loving and kind-hearted man who always smiled. “He was a respectable, kind and honest vendor and will be missed in the Somerset West area, where he sold the magazine. His customers loved him, as he was always soft-spoken and humble; when I posted a notice of his passing on one of the Somerset West community groups, many said they would miss him.
“One of his customers recalled an occasion when she bought a magazine and gave him R200, thinking that it was R20. Sabela held onto her change, and returned her money the next time he saw her. She was so impressed by his honesty and kindness,” says Nicky.
Sabela came to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape in 1978 in search of greener pastures. He worked as a gardener for many years and eventually settled with his family in Strand. He joined The Big Issue (TBI) in 2011 after losing his gardening job, and sold the magazine thereafter. Sabela leaves behind his wife Nomathemba, 61, daughter Siphokhazi, 29, and two sons Sakhumzi, 23, and Dumisani, 21.
“He was his family’s only breadwinner, as his wife is a pensioner. His daughter was doing a learnership, but it came to a halt due to the lockdown, and now she is at home without a job or money. She previously completed a course in office administration, as well as training as an HIV/AIDS facilitator. His sons are both studying at Northlink College; Dumisani
is studying tourism and Sakhumzi is studying electrical engineering. Sabela will be missed by all,” Nicky concludes.
TBI would like to thank Lynette van Zyl of Kos, a supermarket in Somerset West, who donated R850 to Sabela’s family towards his funeral. Kos is also a Big Issue distribution centre.
Sabela’s family needs financial assistance to cover the cost of his children’s education and family debt, as they had to take out a loan to give him a dignified burial in the Eastern Cape. They also have more immediate needs such as money for groceries. If you are able to assist, please contact The Big Issue office on 021 461 6690.