SIPHO MKHIZE who is also known as Msyafo lives in a small township in Durban Lamontville. He lives with his aunt and mother in an informal settlement.They originate from uMthatha in Eastern Cape and came to Durban in the year 1999.They came to Durban looking for a better life and work and this is how the interview went with Sipho Mhize
SIYANDA: Sipho were you born in Durban or you came with your family from Umthatha to Durban?
SIPHO: I was born in Umthatha and like I said “I moved to Lamontville with my family and aunt to Durban at a very young age. I was 8 years old and did not understand why my parents had moved from one place to another.
SIYANDA: You never mentioned anything about your father is he still alive or have you ever lived with your father?
SIPHO: I know my father and yes he is still alive, it`s just that he was absent a father. He never took the responsibility of raising me as his son. He was married to another woman and got my mother pregnant. He left and went to Johanesburg for work and he was never present but he used to send money for groceries to my mother and that`s how we survived until my mother got a job here in Durban and so we moved to Durban
SIYANDA : How is the life here in Durban different from Umthatha ,are there any differences ?
SIPHO : Yes there is a very big difference between Umthatha and Durban . Umthatha is a rural area and schools are very far apart from the townships . You don’t choose which school you want to go to and you are forced by the situation that you must attend the nearest school or no school but I was lucky to start primary here in Durban. My mother was then employed in Durban and that’s where she got a proper average job and she managed to support them as family
SIYANDA: which primary school did you go to and do you still remember how old were you when you started primary.
SIPHO: I stated primary school when I was 9 years old. I went to coedmore Primary School in Chatsworth unit 1 just outside the township of Lamontville. I use to travel by bus when going to school. Traveling by bus thought me how to save at a very young age. I completed grade 7 when I was 15 years old, and that exactly the year that I started doing naughty things. It was the mid-year (smiling and laughing) June or July 2004 when my aunt said that she received a call from my uncle. He told my aunt that to tell my mother that I have to go to Entabeni (initiation school) (he nodded his head and smiled). I thought it was a joke or a prank when I heard that for the first time (tjoe uthin manje lomuntu)? “aibo holds his head). My aunt kept on insisting about the initiation school “ hambha phela ndoda uye entabeni kaloku usizakale chini ( imitating her aunt with a funny voice). I had no choice because my mother had also intervened and also told me the benefits of being circumcised. jeez I don’t want to go there, what the fuck.
SIYANDA: have you ever wanted to be circumcised in a traditional way or you want to be circumcised at the hospital by a professional medical doctor at a hospital.
Sipho: I wanted to be circumcised in a hospital but I had no options. The year 2004 was a hectic year for me because I was afraid to get circumcised in uMthatha which was very inappropriate. I went back to uMthatha for the initiation school(entabeni).and came back. I stayed at the school
(entabeni) for a period of 2 months (there are some things that I will not share) he said, but I started smoking weed after I came back from entabeni.
SIYANDA: how was your first experience of smoking weed?
SIPHO: if it was not for the entabeni, I wouldn’t have started smoking at all. At the entabeni you are forced to smoke weed so that you can take away the pains that you are going through after the circumcision, they don’t provide medical services. After a year a friend and I heard about a drug called sugars, we were surprised and amazed for the drug and at the same time wanted to experience the drug.
SIYANDA: how did you hear about the drug and who introduces it to you?
SIPHO: a boy at school introduced the drug to us, one day he came with the drug. It was wrapped up in a joint. The joint was mixed together with the drug(whoonga/heroin) at that time it was called sugar, so it was a sugar joint.
SIYA: how was your first experience with the drug and how did it affect your life?
SIPHO: TJOE (he nods his head) I’ve never felt so good, free and high in my life before. Two pills changed my life and now I’m stuck with it, yabo nje mfethu. It was all good when I started, I had money to buy the drug all the time whenever I felt like but when in was addicted to it was another story. Whoonga took everything from me and now.im all alone with no place to stay, no girlfriend no family and I had to panta every single day so that I can survive. I am tired of living this life Siya mfethu, yaz sometimes I envy the dead, I wish to sleep and never wake up. Please siya mfethu I am crying out for help angsayifuni iwhoonga mfethu. I want to go back to my family and be a human being once again.