WATCH The Real Story Behind South Africa's Eloquent Homeless Man, Bonga Sithole. Photos: YT screenshots
WATCH The Real Story Behind South Africa's Eloquent Homeless Man, Bonga Sithole. Photos: YT screenshots

A video is going viral in South Africa of a conversation with a homeless man – Bonga Sithole – in Auckland Park, Johannesburg… with many falling in love with the Zola man who has a brilliant command of the English language, and some wise insight (“I am not defined by this cup,” he says.) In an interview posted on YouTube, Bonga explains how he came to be in Campus Square begging for money…

Growing up, his father was pretty wealthy (he had 11 taxis and two buses) and loved Bonga for his cerebral talent, subsequently investing in his education. Bonga attended an Afrikaans primary school in the early ’90s where he was so smart he was fast-tracked from Grade 2 to Grade 4.

However his childhood was far from happy. His parents split up and his step-father was an alcoholic who resented him, making sure he knew he did not belong. Bonga lived between his dad in Rustenburg and his mom in Zola, where he helped with his two younger half-sisters, he told Nkululeko in an hour-long interview (watch below).

For High School, Bonga was sent to the local township school… but he only made it to Standard 7 (Grade 9) before dropping out, after tragedy struck.


His father was killed by two guys who shot him with nine bullets. Bonga says a part of him died for a long time and he was withdrawn. He was tormented.

Bonga has a dream…

But he still has a dream. To be a radio jockey. And that’s why he hangs out at Campus Square – because the SABC buildings are there, “the Hollywood version of Mzansi”. (In the video below, he posts a special message for the SABC at around 38′)

Until he achieves his dream, he lives on the streets… but he does not let the begging cup define him. And he weathers his way through the harsh climate and the even harsher perceptions some people have of him, although they do “suppress” him.

Bonga – who loves reading – is in the process of writing an autobiography, and has cleaned up his act since being imprisoned for 18 months for being in possession of heroin.

Bonga came to the country’s attention when a Mrs South Africa finalist tracked him down after watching him on TikTok.

South Africans are loving the video, with some even suggesting Bonga should be South Africa’s president (simply because he speaks good English and Afrikaans!). For Bonga though, it would be enough to be a radio presenter… 

WATCH Homeless Man Bonga Sithole speaks eloquent English, South Africa

P.S. The quality of this video is a little strange. While it looks like a mobile phone is recording him, some of the sound quality (particularly when he changes to Afrikaans) is of studio quality and at some points in the video the cars cannot be heard, and at others they can. Nonetheless, Bonga is extremely eloquent…

WATCH Popular Homeless Man in South Africa – the story of Bonga Sithole

ALSO READ: Homeless man in Cape Town lost his job, house and car, and says “I never grew up to stand by a robot with a board”.