/ 1 March 2019

Slice of life: Looking for life in Jozi

Nceba Tshizana
Nceba Tshizana (Delwyn Verasamy)

I was on my way to work at a garage in Whittlesea on a Saturday morning in 2006. While I was walking, I was hit by the feeling that the time was right. I turned back after making the decision that, come Monday morning, I was leaving for Jo’burg.

I also decided to leave without telling my family because they’d ask me too many questions. You see, I knew that to leave home would mean that I would have to live on the streets of Jo’burg because I knew no one here.

I slept at my friend’s house until Monday, when I sneaked back home to get a few clothes and caught the 7am train leaving Queenstown. The only thing I told my friend was that “ngiyofuna impilo e Jozi”, I am going to look for life in Jozi.

I had been thinking about leaving the town of Whittlesea for a while before that Saturday. People pass matric there but you find them on the street corners day in and day out. I dropped out before matric so what chance did I have of making a life for myself there?

When I arrived, I just walked around Park Station the whole day and slept there. On the second day, someone showed me where the shelters are and how to hustle for food. I wasn’t scared. I just didn’t want the sun to set each day because I’d have to find somewhere new to sleep.

I only went home again in 2011. I was still on and off the streets and working here and there.

But look at me now. My family can’t believe it. — In 2015 Nceba Tshizana (38) started working as a gardener at the David Krut Bookstore and now handles books and assists with installing exhibitions. He told Mashadi Kekana his story