Our vendors: Mjongeni Malanti (The Big Issue South Africa, Cape Town)

By Lungisa Mngwazi, The Big Issue South Africa

We often hear stories of mothers being single parents, but Mjongeni Malanti (53), is a single father who is defying all the stereotypes when it comes to raising his children on his own.

The Khayelitsha resident pushes himself to break the bonds of poverty by selling The Big Issue on Orange Street, Cape Town.

“I’m a father of two children,” says Malanti. “My first-born is 28 years old and stays in the Eastern Cape. My second-born, Samkelo is 23 and is studying occupational therapy at the University of the Western Cape. He is a brilliant student and received a bursary. He has made it despite our circumstances; I’m so proud of him.”

A former property caretaker, Malanti started selling The Big Issue in 1998.

He complements his income by doing odd jobs and selling photo frames.

Credit: Lungisa Mnqwazi

“I have had several temporary jobs since I started selling the magazine,” Malanti tells me. “Sometimes I would have to stop selling it because I was working full time. What I love about The Big Issue, though, is that you are never neglected, even when you find temporary employment. You can come back and sell again as long as the organisation knows that you are making ends meet.”

Malanti is an avid photographer, although unfortunately he no longer owns a camera because he was robbed on his way to a client in Khayelitsha. He also enjoys repairing electrical appliances.

“I’m a jack of all trades,” Malanti explains. “I am a fast learner and can perform any duty. Over the years, I’ve gained many skills. I also have a broad general knowledge for fixing electrical appliances and being a property caretaker.”

While Malanti has been grateful for the opportunity to sell The Big Issue for nearly 21 years, he is planning for his future.

“Soon, I will be old and unable to stand on the streets to sell the publication,” Malanti says. “Hence, I would love to get a permanent job, to work for a couple of years and save some money for retirement. My kids are old enough and they don’t have many needs anymore. Once I retire, I will go back to the Eastern Cape and spend time with my mother.”