Mandela ‘Still Fighting For Us,” Entrepreneurs Say

Mandela ‘Still Fighting For Us,” Entrepreneurs Say

A community of international media, well-wishers and entrepreneurs has sprung up on the street outside the Pretoria clinic where former South African President Nelson Mandela has been undergoing treatment since June 8, according to a report in All Africa.

Broadcasters from around the world have set up tents, tripods and generators along the closed-off street near the entrance to the Pretoria Medi-Clinic Heart Hospital, and there is a constant stream of well-wishers throughout the day with food vendors, T-shirt sellers and others present to serve the needs for sustenance and souvenirs of the beloved Madiba, the report said.

Xhola Sikutshwa and friends set up a table in front of their nearby apartment to sell cold drinks like water and coke, and items such as cigarettes, matches and homemade pies.

Sikutshwa says he’s happy to take advantage of the opportunity.

“I think for these people being here, like journalists all over the world, I think they made a difference into our lives because we are getting something out of them,” Sikutshwa said. “We are very much happy about this. Like I said, the old man is still fighting for us while he is still lying there, you know, because we are getting something out of that.”

Godfrey Mooketsi is selling Mandela tablecloths, Mandela fabric and ANC headscarves. He charges $10 for two meters of cloth and has hired someone to sell for him. “I’m selling the merchandise of the ANC…it’s my business,” Mooketsi said.

It’s what Mandela would want, he said.

“I pay this guy. I’m empowering somebody. Now Mandela is empowering me, because I’m selling Mandela stuff,” Mooketsi said, according to All Africa.

But not everyone is happy. Fatima Bele runs a fruit and snack stand normally visible to passers-by, but business has been bad since two satellite trucks pulled up and parked in front of her, blocking access, she told All Africa.

Eight gas-powered generators belch smoke 24/7 and make the spot unpleasant, giving her a headache, she told All Africa. Regular customers are staying away, she said. “There’s no way to pass. So really it’s very quiet. I’m not making money for the whole month.”

Others who may have had no income before now find a way to make some, the report says.

Apartment owners with balconies facing the hospital are renting out space to international camera crews and apartment dwellers are charging these long-term street guests 50 cents to use the apartment building’s lobby bathroom.

Mooketsi says it’s been awesome so far.

“When I came here…in my bank account I had like ($3,000). At the moment I have about ($4,500) which means I put ($1,500) into my bank account…which is pretty good.” With a profit of about $1,500 in four days, Mooketsi said he will keep at it while he can, according to  All Africa.