JoziFolk - images of everyday life in South Africa

JoziFolk - the Stories and Portraits of Real South Africans 

 June 2014

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We never list the names of the people photographed and featured on JoziFolk.

"Nowadays I work as a window-dresser. I was an apprentice electrician but the company went under and my boss disappeared." (140654)

 "I own this taxi. I bought it three years ago for R35 000 with the help of a friend. Before that I spent four years unemployed after being paid off as a delivery-van driver.

"I can't really say I enjoy this job but at least it puts food on the table." (140651)

"We've known each other for 16 years. We used to dance together and now we work together. I guess you could say we are BFFs." (140642)

"I'm from Brazil but live here now. It's a long story how I ended up here but I believe God had a plan. He sent me to Johannesburg to learn." (140640)

 Do you see a future in this country for your kids?

"At the moment things look a bit uncertain but I am sure we will produce leaders that'll make things better."

Is that something you really believe, or something you WANT to believe?

"No, it's a genuine belief. We can get Dutch passports but we've never considered emigrating."  (140638)

What is the one goal in life you really, really want to achieve?

"I want to own and operate a Dunkin Donuts franchise. Maybe even here in South Africa.

"The first job I ever had was at a Dunkin Donuts in Cleveland when I was 15 and it's still the best job I've ever had. It's really simple and happy - just customers, coffee and donuts!" (140648)

"I started drawing before I even went to school and have never had a lesson in my life.

"The idea that you can become rich from soccer but not art is nonsense. I can work in any medium but chose to work with pencil and paper because canvases are expensive and oils take a long time to dry.

"It's difficult to get rich if you expect galleries to sell your work. You need to interact directly with the public who are your clients.

"I can do four small drawings per day and, for the past 23 years, have made a very good living doing this. It's actually allowed me to set up other successful businesses." (140649)

"My Granny found a bug. It's so cute."

"My sister is afraid of it!"

"I am not! When I grow up I want to be a princess."

"I want to be a scientist." (140639) 

 "I hope in 10 years-time I will have made a career change. Maybe moving into something like wildlife conservation. History, however, says I'll still be here. But you have to dream. If you have a dream at least you'll have something to reach for." (140634)

"I'm at my happiest working on engines and riding fast motorcycles!" (140629) 

"There are a lot of people around here, for whom life is very hard. Every year we collect food, blankets and warm clothing that is distributed to those who need it." (140632)


"I'm 18. I came here from Lesotho to find work but there is none. I survive by sorting through people's garbage for stuff I can sell to recyclers."  (140633) 

"I work in Johannesburg but my real home is in Limpopo. Julius Malema really is my neighbour.

"I know him but I don't support him." (140627) 

"I come from a humble background but I worked hard and today I have a successful law practice.

"The secret to success?  Pick something, stick to it and work damn hard at it.

"There is still great opportunity in South Africa. It's the best country I've ever been to, with great people, a great climate and great things to do!"  (140628)

"I became interested in Christianity at high school, after a friend invited me to church and, at age 17, I became a committed Christian and have been a member of that particular Apostolic Faith Mission church ever since.

"After high school I became involved in youth politics and headed up the local branch of the ANC Youth League. But my life changed and took a completely different course when I attended a workshop on how to care for AIDS patients.

"I was assigned to an older man who had developed full-blown AIDS.

 "I cared for him for six months until he died, I washed him every day, fed him and took care of him in whatever way I could. In that household, I became the mother, father and pastor and, when he died, I buried him and preached at his funeral.

 "I think we were paid in the region of R50 (about $6) per month, but I didn't care. I loved helping and caring for people." (140618)

"I've been a domestic worker all my working-life but I know I need to do something that will support me when I get old.

"I've started a tuck shop at my house in the township." (140619)

"I've worked as a photo-finisher for the past 25 years but always for someone else. Ideally I'd like to own my own lab but I guess I'll need to find a benefactor if that's ever going to happen. 

"Aside from my wife and daughter, the two things I love most in life are photography and coffee.

"My happiest day ever was the day my daughter was born, four years ago!" (140616)

"We've worked long and hard to build a successful practice. You get called out at night and have to work on holidays when others are at home with their families.

"I'm getting to the stage in life where I need to start thinking about taking more time off." (140605)

 "We are an NGO that relies heavily on government funding and sometimes there can be delays if there is a snag. 

 "We have a feeding scheme where we feed hundreds of children every day and have been looking for ways to become more self-sustainable. We are in the process of erecting two tunnels where we plan to grow fruit and vegetables for the scheme and also to provide some employment to people in the community." (140611)

"Life in an informal settlement can be hard. We suffer when it is cold and rains. Of course we would like things to be better but I thank God for what we have."  (140607)

These kids were hanging around a circus that was in town. They were hoping to sneak in when the show started but the owner felt sorry for them. He told them if they picked up the litter around the big-top they could go in for free and sit right in the front. (140601) 

Seen at the circus.  (140604) 

"I started working here as an apprentice over 35 years ago and now I own the business!"  (140606)

 Seen at the circus.  (140603)

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Can you remember the day you were the angriest you've ever been?

"Yes. It was the day the police wrongfully arrested and locked up my son. I've never felt so angry, powerless or frustrated!" (140657) 

 "I import fragrances and she is involved in manufacturing jewellery."

Are you planning to get married?

"Err...maybe!" (140643)

If you could be anyone at all on earth, who would that be?

"Barbie!" (140658) 

"I have big dreams for my son. I want him to be well educated and to pursue his own aspirations with some guidance from us. I am sometimes worried about what the future holds for him and the news sometimes causes us to lose confidence but we try to divorce ourselves from that." (140641)

"I used to live in Johannesburg but now I stay in Pretoria. I am a lecturer in multi-media processes. Today I am doing some training." (140652)



How would you like to change your life over the next five years?

"I'm currently a graphic designer but I'd like to become a full-time professional photographer within the next two years." (140637)

"For over 20 years I've sold soft-serve ice creams on weekends but during the week I am a school teacher." 


"I'm a relatively new biker but I love the sense of freedom and the way it allows me to get away from everything. When I'm on the bike, I can't think about anything else." (140625) 

"It's my birthday today!" (140646) 

"The only way things in South Africa will come right is if we all stand together as a country!"  (140636)


"If you want something deep and philosophical,  I'm afraid I'm all out today." (140635)

"On a Sunday morning in 2006, my life changed forever when I was shot in an altercation and paralyzed  from the waist down.

"When I came round in the hospital and discovered I could move my arms and hands, I decided then I would get on with my life.

"It wasn't easy. I went from being a 26 year-old guy with my own business and house, to moving back in and being taken care of by my parents.

"But I believe a greater power had a hand in my life and I was in fact given a wake-up call. If my life'd continued as it was before I was shot, I've probably would've drank myself to death or been killed in a car accident.

"I never believed any girl would be interested in someone in a wheelchair but I ended up meeting and marrying a wonderful woman and we are planning a family.

"I've become a better person. I now treasure the little moments in life and the things I once took for granted." (140631)

"Regrets in life? I can honestly say I don't have even one! I've been very lucky, everything I've wanted to do I've done successfully.

"I wanted to be a mechanic and have been one for 43 years. I wanted to go racing, did so and won the  SA Championships in 1980.

"I wanted to be in a band and produce music CDs and I did that too." (140630)

"There are four of us in the house and I have a three month-old baby.  I work as a domestic worker a few days a week and am the only one in the family with work at the moment."  (140621)

What single piece of advice would you give your children?

"To give everything in life their best shot and to live every day as if there is no tomorrow, because there may be no tomorrow.

"And to always part on good terms so they never have to live with regrets in the future."  (140622)

"I'm a school teacher. In 2012 I had a mild stroke that sent me into a state of deep depression. I was diagnosed too ill to teach and have been on recuperative leave for a number of months.

"As part of my therapy I make art from recycled materials. I have to see the shrink again soon. If he declares me permanently unfit to return to teaching my plan is to turn my art into a business." (140620)

"My mother died when I was 16 and I was thrust into the role of head of the household and responsible for taking care of my sisters, aged 10 and 14.

 "I only started school when I was 11 so, there I was, a Grade 7 youngster, faced with the responsibility of making sure we survived. 

"I had to do the cooking, help with the cleaning, make lunches for school and worry about keeping us all together, all of which became increasingly difficult when I started high school.

"But an NGO heard about us and stepped in to help us. They were largely responsible for the fact that I went to university and today have a job where I am able to give back." (140617)

"To be honest, I'm still trying to find my place in South Africa." (140610) 

"I recently got engaged to a wonderful girl from the US and we're living here."

What do you like about Johannesburg? 

 "My family is here, Duke’s Burgers, Lucio’s Pizza."

 What don't you like? 

 "Crime, Too many people, too congested, too much traffic, lack of infrastructure and decent public transport, e-tolls, ever increasing costs, consumer mentality and rat-race like culture, too spread out and too much driving required, transport costs take a HUGE chunk of your income, people are hostile and aggressive, nowhere safe to cycle, lack of decent, affordable places to live.

 How would you like your life to look in five years time?

"I would like to be far away from Joburg, with my own business, financially secure and feeling less stressed, on edge and constantly anxious." (140608)

"My husband died earlier this year. We would have been married 60 years in September. For the past few years, as he grew more ill, he was too weak to leave the house and I cared for him.

"As a result, I almost never left home. After his death I needed to escape from it all for a few weeks. I got to visit a spot I was last at 70 years-ago, when as a young girl, I camped there with my parents.

As I stood on the exact spot we spent so many happy times and memories came flooding back, I was overcome with such emotion that I wanted to weep.

"This is a photograph of me standing on the path that my brothers, sisters and I used to follow to the beach." (140609)

Seen at the circus.  (140602) 


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