The affordable education loan option
Cape Town -
Three Ferraris and three Maseratis glitter in the showroom’s spotlight – super cars worth about R18 million. They’re sheltered from the rain – but the people are not so lucky.
A group of homeless people have made the other side of the plate glass windows of the Viglietti showroom in Roeland Street their home. Between 10 and 20 people arrive when the dealership closes its doors each day to find a spot to sleep in for the night.
One of them is James Mafana, 60, who wears a beanie in the colours of the South African flag. He has slept here for the past three months, using a small sack stuffed with his belongings as a pillow.
Mafana came to Cape Town from Queenstown with his friend Ayanda Makube. Makube, 33, dropped out of school in Grade 7, when his family could no longer afford his fees. He came here because “there are no jobs in the Eastern Cape”.
Makube is wrapped in a grey blanket and keeps his belongings in a white Pick n Pay bag. “It’s very, very cold here at night,” he says, carefully removing leftover tobacco from cigarette butts he has collected. He then rolls the tobacco in newspaper for a smoke.
Makube says he chooses to sleep outside Viglietti because the canopy protects him from the rain.
Gesturing towards the red Ferrari in the showroom, Makube says: “The guy who works in the store says it’s a million, that car. I don’t have a million. So I don’t say nothing.”
Beauty Msomi arrives, wearing a long beige coat and sandals. It’s 8.15pm. “Place is scarce to sleep, so I must come at this time,” she says.
A sleek silver Audi pulls up to the curb. Music blasts. Blankets fall to the ground as six people run to the car. “He comes to bring food every Sunday night,” says Msomi as she accepts a handout of rice.
Born in Durban, Msomi came to the Mother City in 2000 in search of a job. She distributes pamphlets for a sangoma. He pays her R200 a week.
“I like the red one,” she says, pointing to the Ferraris. She thinks it is worth about R2 000. “If I got the money, I’d buy it,” she says. “But I can’t. I’m poor.”
Andile Magunde, 36, says the only rule of the Viglietti sleeping place is that by 6am you must go. He secures his spot at 7pm every day. Magunde is barefoot and wears a black Billabong hoodie and jeans.
He prefers Maseratis. “I don’t like the shape of the Ferrari.” He estimates the car costs R4m. “I want it. I can’t buy this car now. But I like it.”
Three or four men huddle around Victor Mashao, a newcomer who has just arrived. Mashao, whose father was a mechanic, knows about cars.
“Those are one of the most expensive tyres. They are 17-inch original Maserati tyres. They cost about R18 000 for four of them,” he says. “This car is too fast, my bru.
“The Maserati is an investment car. I like the design of the Maserati. The Ferrari is just for the wife and me. The Maserati is a four-seater so it’s for my wife and me and our children.” He grins. “When my life changes I’m going to buy this car.”
Mashao fetches Weekend Argus posters. “It’s a bed.” Originally from Soweto, Mashao says he has been sleeping here for three months. “It’s safe here.” He was attacked twice when sleeping near the Castle.
Bulelani Jackson, 29, who does maintenance work at a Vredehoek school, pays no attention to the cars. “Honestly, I don’t like those cars,” he says, “They are too expensive and too small.”
He comes to the showroom because he says night shelters charge R700 a month if you are working. “This is not the life, especially when it’s raining. Human beings are not supposed to stay outside.”