Homeless man fixes potholes on an empty stomach

2015-11-19 10:55
Lymen Mlambo (Supplied by Vanessa Courtenay)

Lymen Mlambo (Supplied by Vanessa Courtenay)

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Cape Town – Lymen Mlambo spends his days fixing potholes. But he’s not a municipal worker. Homeless and jobless, he collects change from strangers to buy cement and improve Haartbeespoort roads.

His maths doesn’t always add up and some days he ends up with a cement bag but no food to eat.

Now, with the help of a concerned resident, things may be looking up.

It’s hard to miss the 25-year-old in his neon yellow reflective vest. He is often spotted stooping over a bucket in the road or lugging a heavy cement bag on his shoulder.

Wondering whether someone had contracted him to do the job, small business owner Vanessa Courtenay stopped her car to chat to him on Saturday.

“He said: ‘no ma’am. I am doing this on my own.’ That’s when I burst into tears.”


Mlambo has had a tough life.

His father was shot and killed when he was a small child in Zimbabwe. His mother died from an unknown sickness.

An education organisation apparently enrolled the 10-year-old orphan at a school in Mabopane, north of Pretoria.

“He was later kicked out and that’s how he ended up in the North-West, sleeping in the bushes in Ifafi. No shelter, hut or shack,” said Courtenay.

Speaking to News24 on Wednesday, Mlambo said he had been helping the community for four years.

“I fix potholes because I have no job. Or if you be criminal, it’s no good,” he said slowly.

Not quite knowing what to do, Courtenay ended up taking a photo of her new friend and posting it on a local community Facebook page to ask for support.

By Wednesday the post had been shared over 10 000 times.

(Supplied by Vanessa Courtenay)


Most users praised his initiative or offered money. Others gently suggested cement was not the best material to use. Critics warned that the municipality would take action against him.

A pothole repairs company that wished to remain anonymous has since offered to help.

He will apparently receive full training on Friday and have his first bag of repair mix sponsored.

The Webber Wentzel law firm has also come on board and will assist on a pro-bono basis in setting up a non-profit company, said Courtenay.

“It will be called the Lymen Project,” she revealed. “He has a vision that he wants to see other unemployed people find work."

Once she has an interpreter, she will explain all the support he has and check whether she has interpreted his vision correctly.

She was in the process of following the correct channels with the Madibeng Municipality.

“Perhaps I am thinking too big but at the same time, I want to realise his dream.”

Municipality spokesperson Tumelo Tshabalala planned to comment at a later stage.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  good news

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