17 August 2021
Ziggy Goredema lives in a weathered tent in Van Riebeeck Park, near Cape Town’s city centre. On the tree above his tent hang unique lampshades, which he has made from materials like tent poles, wire and fabric coffee sacks. Goredema has been living under the tree for five months.
Goredema left Zimbabwe for Pretoria six years ago. He found work at a fruit and vegetable market but was struggling to make ends meet. A year later he moved to Cape Town and found temporary work at an electrical hardware store. “That’s where I learnt this,” he says, pointing to the pendants.
Goredema lost his job when the pandemic started in 2020. Unable to afford his rent in Woodstock, he became homeless. He moved to the area opposite De Waal Park where other homeless people live, but moved to Van Riebeeck Park after he got robbed. “Being unemployed, life becomes so difficult,” he says. That’s when he started to make the frames for hanging lamps. “I learnt to make these out of hardship. You are unemployed, you have to eat,” says Goredema.
Goredema says that after making his first sale, he began researching design ideas from internet cafes, sketching on paper and looking for materials. He says welders help him assemble the frames for a fee. Then he makes finishing touches like painting and threading.
Each piece can take at least two days to complete and costs about R250. “It needs to be perfect for someone to get value for money,” says Goredema.
He has some basic tools like a pliers, hammer, a couple of screwdrivers and a saw, but needs access to electronic tools. He says not many people visit the park, but he has sold some of his pieces to stores in Sea Point and the Garden Centre. He is still looking for a more permanent place to display and sell his pieces. The last time he managed to sell something was three weeks ago.
“I have to eat and reinvest from this. I have to call home and send something to my sister who lives with my two daughters,” he says. “I need tools and a place where I can display my work. I can find shelter and food from my work.” he says. “No one really expects to be homeless. It’s hectic. It’s hard. You are no longer regarded as a normal human being,” he says.
Goredema is one of the many homeless people living in Van Riebeeck Park. Tents and makeshift homes are scattered throughout the park.