Adjusting to life with a disability can be difficult but a Langa-based car-guard, Sikumpi Hloyi, says one just needs an understanding of the disability to make it easier.
Mr Hloyi’s career was derailed in a single moment in 1995. He was hit by a car and ended up in a wheelchair, unable to walk, but that did not stop him from wanting to work.
He returned to his old post as cleaner in Somerset but three years ago he moved to Langa to watch and direct cars near Gugasthebe, where no one can miss his bright bib and even brighter smile.
If a car stops, he raises a hand to say: “I am at your service.” He never misses a car and energetically guides motorists in and out of parking bays.
“I refuse to see disability as a setback or accept that it should control my opportunities. I am in a situation that I cannot change. For me to live my life, I have to always be positive,” he said, with a big smile on his face.
During his interview with Vukani, he moved about constantly, patiently directing drivers, but kept coming back to the interview, saying he was happy to tell his story.
He said he had forgiven the driver that caused the accident that robbed him of his ability to walk.
“I guess the driver didn’t see me. These things happen. As pedestrians we are also at fault sometimes but I have nothing against the driver,” he said.
The 61-year-old car guard stays in an old age home. He starts work at 6am and stops when there are no more cars. The amount of money he makes varies on the generosity of the drivers he assists..
“I am not greedy but trying to make a living and show the world that I am not mentally disabled. And I love what I am doing. I won’t stop now. Why must I stop doing something I am passionate about?” he asked.
He hopes his story will inspire others. Young people not be picky about jobs, he said.
“People with disabilities should do things for themselves. The unemployment rate is high. Young people must start doing something that will bring them money. As long as it is legal, they must do it. Look at me, I have been in this business long and I can put a plate of food on the table. I am still active,” he encouraged. “Let us get working Mzantsi and do something for ourselves.”