Vuma pop-up cinema in Khayelitsha Photo: Facebook
Adjusting to severe water restrictions and drought conditions, the Khayelitsha community has come out in support of local Buhle Sithela and his bin cleaning business - the funds of which he uses to screen films for free to township audiences.

The 22-year-old’s Vuma Pop-Up Cinema was recently given a boost when WWF-SA donated solar panels to ensure the cinema operates with clean energy.

The sun now powers his business as he hosts open-air screenings in his neighbourhood, while aiming to inspire a new generation of film fans.

Sithela and his three employees clean bins at a small fee which also serves as an income generator to keep the pop-up cinema going.

The water crisis, however, posed a huge challenge for Sithela. “For us to clean bins, we need water, but we had to be creative and think of how we can use as little water as possible. We no longer use tap water.

“In the community, if someone is doing laundry, we ask for that water, and any other spare water, we ask them to keep it for us.

"We only pour the (cleaning) chemicals with our buckets, then we go from house to house to clean the bins; we can’t take the bins to one place. We are going to struggle with water, so we work with the community,” he said.

The support from Sithela’s community is still strong. People understand there is no water, he said.

“Our plan is to use as little water as possible, and if we can find a way, to not use water at all. If we make enough profit, we are going to budget to buy a water tank. We can keep grey water in the tank, so that our business can continue,” he said.

The cinema focuses on showcasing local movies, including those made by students.

“I want to tell African stories. The people in my community can relate to this. It also gives an advantage to film students, that we can expose their films in the township,” he said.

WWF-SA business development head Justin Smith said the conservation organisation loved Sithela’s work, and supported him with a replacement solar panel kit for his cinema.

“We strongly support renewable energy and believe we need to incorporate more renewable energy into South Africa’s energy mix. Seeing passionate entrepreneurs like Buhle use renewable energy to power their businesses is really exciting.”

Sithela can be reached at 0765713356 or via email: [email protected]

[email protected]