Here is the story of Bonga Sithole, South Africa’s most eloquent homeless man, from his homelessness to his time in rehab.
As they say, wonders shall never cease. It isn’t every day you watch a brilliant man who lives in the streets and feels like life is truly worth living. The story of a South African man, Bonga Sithole, breaks hearts and warms them simultaneously.
He was introduced to Mzansi after a video of him in the streets went viral. Mzansi was shocked to see a homeless man have such a good command of English. The video featured him in an interview in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, where he opened up about his sad but hopeful life and future hopes.
In the video, he talks about what his life was like and how he came to Campus Square and began begging for money. We all are surprised to hear that he had a wealthy upbringing. According to him, his father was a rich man who owned 11 taxis and two buses. We all know that the returns on that would be impressive. Bonga shared that his father loved him because he was a brilliant boy.
He also did not relent in investing in Bonga’s education. In the early 90s, Bonga attended an Afrikaans primary school. Because of his smartness, he was promoted from Grade 2 to Grade 4, but, sadly, he did not have a very happy childhood. His parents marriage fell apart, and they got a divorce. He then had to split his time between living with his father in Rustenburg and with his mother in Zola.
Bonga’s stepfather was not a fan of him. He shared that his step father never wasted time reminding him that he did not belong. Bonga had to help his mother with his two half-sisters. He also went to a local high school but only made it to Standard 7 (Grade 9) before a tragedy caused him to drop out.
His father was shot dead by two gunmen who left nine bullets in him. He said that a part of him died with his father, and caused him to become withdrawn. Dealing with torment, Bonga says he was threatened with the same fate that befell his father.
After losing his job and all he had, he tried to make ends meet. Later on, he was convicted of Heroin possession and spent several months in prison. He shared that while he was there, he saw more lost souls than hardened criminals. It changed his perspective about people behind bars. He left prison with a new drive to make it.
For year, Bonga has nursed a dream to be a radio jockey. This led him to hang around Campus Square, “the Hollywood version of Mzansi.” He shared that most people looked down on him and his dreams which broke his confidence.
After getting noticed on TikTok, a Miss South Africa finalist tracked him down and helped bring the country’s attention to him. Bonga eloquently appealed to the SABC to notice him and help make his dreams come true. He shared that he loves reading (he reads every evening) and is in the process of writing an autobiography.
Watch his interview with Nkululeko below.