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“I have come that you may have life: life in all its fullness.” John 10:10

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James Tshabalala


"Don’t feel sorry for me. Because I don’t.”

What does it take for someone to be homeless? Is it years and years of bad decisions, drugs, conflict, crime, fear, anger or regret? Not always. You will be surprised how easy it is to become homeless. You can make one right decision and it can be turned into a wrong decision in a matter of seconds. Well that’s the story of my recent life: I made one brave decision and turned into a nightmare.

I’m from Estcourt. I used to work as a brick layer and I was in a process of turning my skills into a big construction business. But those dreams were cut short because I trusted a stranger.

I was building a double-storey house for some sulumane guy at Estcourt. He was impressed by the job that I did because I finished that house within a month. So he said to me: he loves what I did, he wants me to come to Durban with him and help with some few properties he wants to renovate, and he will pay for accommodation, and I will make a lot of money! I saw an opportunity but he saw a popeye.

When we got to Durban he took me to a shelter that he booked for me, for only four days. He only came once after he dropped me there just to check on me. After that I never seen him again. Before I knew it, the four days were over so I had to move out of the shelter. He was nowhere to be seen. As I was walking out of the shelter, there were two tsotsis just outside and across the street there were the SAPS, two Indian guys and one black guy. As soon as I stepped out, the tsotsis jumped on me. They pulled out an okapi five star knife: it was very sharp, it could have easily pierced my stomach. They asked for the luggage I have and everything that I’ve got. I decided to give them the luggage. They started going into my pockets and they took my ID and my wallet which had all my ATM cards. Now they wanted to take my laptop. I was so angry at that point because, while all of this was happening, the police across the street were just watching. So I took out the laptop from the bag and smashed it on the ground but they took it anyway and ran away. After that incident, I went straight to the police across the road and asked them to help me. They just told me to go to the police station and open a case.

From that point I knew I was not going to get justice.

I collected myself and started thinking about how I am going to get my ID back and how will I get money to go back home. But nothing came to mind, especially after what I went through. For one week I slept on the street. I was sleeping with a different group every night until someone told me about the Denis Hurley Centre.

I went to DHC with the hope that they will help me with my unforeseen situation, and they did. I started working as a car guard, then sold books and now I am a security guard at St Joseph’s Church in Florida Road. From the day I decided to not feel sorry for myself and went to DHC, I never slept outside again. I’m able send money home every month to my two beautiful girls and also pay for my shelter. I lost trust on amsulumane and the SAPS.

My family doesn’t ever know that I’ve been through this because it always brings out the anger in me. I don’t want them to see me angry or sad.

I don’t feel sorry for myself and I don’t want other people to.