Siphamandla Ntshewula hopes to sell his plastic bottle lamps to learners to help them study at night. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

When Siphamandla Ntshewula was studying for matric in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, his family used to tell him the bright ceiling lights stopped them sleeping. So the young South African came up with the idea of making desk lamps from plastic bottles.

creates lamps from plastic bottles
Siphamandla Ntshewula hopes to sell his plastic bottle lamps to learners to help them study at night. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

Ntshewula, from T Section in Site B, matriculated in 2017.

Now 21, he says he knows what a struggle it can be to study in a house you share with a big family.

“I found that when I would study at night, I would get complaints from my aunt to switch off the light because it was too bright. And as you can see, I live in a fairly spacious house. What about those students who live in one-roomed shacks?” said Ntshewula.


He came up with the idea of making a desk lamp from a small lightbulb and a 2-litre plastic bottle. He made three lamps, covering the bottles with fabric from an old pillow. Two lamps were stolen from inside his home, but he sold one to a friend who loved it.

Ntshewula, who is unemployed and living with his aunt and uncle, dreams of starting his own small business selling his lamps.

“I am also looking into making my lamps battery-friendly because as you know, we have problems with load-shedding. And sometimes people cannot afford to buy electricity,” said Ntshewula.

The electric wire, plug, switch and bulb for one lamp cost about R100. He can make a lamp in less than an hour.

Children in the area collect plastic bottles for him and his aunt brings him offcuts of fabric from the factory where she works.

He has applied to join a youth-in-business programme where he will be taught how to start a business, how to register a company, tax and other matters.

Asked what customers should know about his lamps, Ntshewula said they should not buy bulbs which were too powerful because these could burn the plastic bottle. The weaker bulbs were quite safe, he said.