Our Vendors: Xolani Nkomithyoboza (The Big Issue South Africa, Cape Town)

Xolani Nkomithyoboza is an industrious man who’s never been afraid of hard work. Like many of The Big Issue’s vendors, he’s stared down adversity many times. But for whatever reason – pride, guts or stubbornness – he has never learned how to quit. And he’s back at it, making plans for the future. He tells The Big Issue South Africa about his goals.

By Xolani Nkomithyoboza, vendor for The Big Issue South Africa 

I’m originally from Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape. I speak English well because I was in Durban for a long time, where I spoke [English] a lot. I came to Cape Town in 2005 after living in the Eastern Cape for some time. I left the Eastern Cape because the development there is not so good… so I came here looking for opportunities.

Xolani sells the Big Issue South Africa in Cape Town

I was working in Bellville South [a suburb in Cape Town] as a forklift driver, operating with steel, before coming to The Big Issue. I started there as a general worker and they sent me to learn how to be a forklift driver because they saw that I was hardworking.

The problem in Bellville South was that the company I was [working] with changed managers, and the new manager brought his own people. That was in 2007. Then my brother-in-law introduced me to The Big Issue. I like The Big Issue. I’ve got five children and I try to do things for them.

My dream is to use my skills in business. I’m a forklifter, a tiler and a plasterer. But the problem is it is difficult to get tools and licences. My forklifter’s licence expired and that means I have to do the test to get a licence, which I guess is between R1,800 and R 2,000 [£80-£90/ €110-€120/ $130-$140] now.

I would like to start my own tiling business in Delft [a township on the outskirts of Cape Town] where I live. About 12 people in Delft paid me for tiling, so I’ve had some customers before. I’d be able to find more customers if I had the tools. Even now I have customers, but I have to borrow tools.

The tools I need are a grinder, a side cutter and a tile cutter with a wing and extension cord.

What do you like most about yourself?

I have drive and compassion. I want to develop in life.

What do you want out of life?

I want to protect everyone in my family and to help people who are suffering. I feel sorry when I see people in trouble.

We share a vendor story every Wednesday. Read more global vendor stories here.