Known pen seller in Bedfordview shares his dreams of being a fashion guru

Zaney Ncame stands at the corner of Van der Linde and Nicol roads where he sells his pens and bags.

Bedfordview’s wannabe fashion guru and entrepreneur Zaney Ncame needs your help.

Ncame, whom residents have come to know as the pen seller for many years, told the NEWS that he faces a bleak future.

He said he has lived on the streets for over 10 years.

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“I first came to Johannesburg in 2005 in pursuit of a better life and to also find my father, who had separated from my mother while she was pregnant with me. I found him, but there was no happy ending for me as he was already married to someone else and was taking care of his stepchildren. There was no place for me in his life so I was on my own,” said Ncame.

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He said when attempts to find work proved fruitless, he resorted to selling pens and begging at street corners.

He said he started selling and begging in 2007 after a woman he’d met at church invited him to the intersection she was ‘working’ at.

“For some time I stayed in a men’s shelter in Hillbrow, but had to move out because I could no longer afford to pay R10 a night. I have been living on street corners since then,” said Ncame.

Ncame said he has a talent for design and wants to be a qualified, professional fashion designer.

He said during the day he begs, and then in the evening he cuts out material and sews bags and clothes.

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“I make everything by hand and I have an eye for fashion. I hand-sew bags and sell them together with my pens. I do all my work while sitting on pavements in the Joburg CBD. I also use broken bottles to cut out material. It’s hard, but then again, I have had it tough all my life,” said Ncame.

He called on Bedfordview residents to support his dream.

“I would like to go to a fashion school based in the Joburg CBD. The course I’d like to do costs R1 300 which I don’t have and can never make from selling my pens which go for R5 each. I am appealing to the community to please help me with the fees. I wont expect you to give the cash to me, but rather pay directly to the school. Also, during my time at the school, you would have access to my results. I am a passionate man who is thirsty for opportunity. Please help me,” said Ncame.

He said the winter months are the hardest on the streets.

“The nights are the worst. One can hardly feel their feet and hands. The pavements are cold, especially when the wind hits. I am hoping that by getting a qualification I can make a better man out of myself and be able to move out from the streets,” said Ncame.

He said due to fear of having his documents stolen, he has asked the Sisters at the Bedfordview Clinic to keep his matric certificates.

“I am on chronic medication which I get from the clinic. The nurses there have kindly agreed to keep my certificate for me as I had my ID book stolen while sleeping one night,” said Ncame.

He said he hopes to, one day make enough money to support his mother who lives in rural Eastern Cape.

“I am grateful to some members of this community who have supported me ever since. Some bought me material to make my first batch of bags while others have just bought one pen from me. I am grateful for that because it gives me hope, that people can see where I’m trying to go with this dream of mine,” he said.

Ncame said he feeds off rotten fruit and left overs left by food vendors in the CBD.

Zaney Ncame says he needs help.

“We call it the quick pick. When night comes, I change from my clothes and wear rags and sacks to go pick food pieces from dustbins. If you don’t look like a real ‘hobo’ you get attacked. I can’t complain much about that life because it’s nobody’s fault that I have been so unlucky in life, but I have hope that a good Samaritan will, one day, get me to my dream of studying fashion,” said Ncame.

Those able to assist Zaney can contact him on 073 516 7525.

Addressing the skeptics:

Some residents and motorists whose paths have crossed with Zaney’s have expressed doubt over his credibility.

Ncame called for help from members of the community to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional fashion designer.

In July last year, a resident took to social media to share her experience with the 36-year-old pen seller.

She said after offering him tips on how to grow his business and also arranging a job for him, Ncame’s attitude changed.

“I drove him around to look for other places where he could sell besides the streets. I also gave him money to buy more pen stock. When I saw him after he was made a job offer, he was different and was also upset that his employer would not pay for his transport. He also became very rude to me,” said the resident.

She said although she believes in giving people a chance, her experience with Ncame had put her off helping anyone in a similar position.

Zaney Ncame with a sign a resident previously organised for him.

“I honestly believe that he is taking advantage of the generosity of our community,” said the resident.

Ncame said he is not a con artist.

“I am not lazy and I am also not afraid of work. I am in no position to bite the hand that feeds me. I have had temporary jobs in supermarkets around Johannesburg, including one in Bedfordview. It saddens me to hear people calling me names without hearing my side of the story. I appreciate all the help I have been receiving from residents with good hearts. I am more than happy to open up to anyone who will listen to my story,” said Ncame.

Duenna Mambana

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