Darting and weaving between cars while attending to customers has become a common sight for most shoppers and car owners alike at both NU 6 Mdantsane mall and highway taxi rank as Olwethu Tshona tries to make a living by selling cigarettes. A roller blading enthusiast, Tshona came up with the idea of selling cigarettes as a way of saving travelling costs and serving his customers much quicker, something that has given him some celebrity status around the township. ECN caught up with him to find out about his unique way of making a living.
ECN: Tell us how did the idea of using roller blades to sell cigarettes come about?
OT: After dropping out of school because of financial problems I had to find a way to try and make money, that is when I started selling cigarettes in 2015 here. I soon realised that walking was very tiring and a bit costly because my shoes got worn out quickly, and so I decided to try it out while roller blading, I also use them to get around instead of the money I would be using for transport to get from one place to the other.
ECN: How is the reaction from people when they see you?
OT: People know me by now and I can say I am very popular here especially with children who come with their parents to the mall, that is why one of my wishes is to have a safe place where I can teach them how to roller blade because I can see the excitement in their eyes when they see me.
EC: You seem to be passionate about roller blading, is passing your knowledge of how to roller blade what you want to impart on a larger scale?
OT: I self-taught in the township streets when I was young, and I would love to impart my skills to young children just to keep them busy and occupied so that they do not get into trouble. For now, funding to open a park and buy roller blades is a problem.
ECN: Tell us about the risk you are exposed to everyday because you are selling at busy places where there are a lots of cars and people, and have you ever been injured while doing this?
OT: No, I have never been injured and as I said I started roller blading when I was young so this comes natural to me now. Another thing is that I knew when I decided to sell using roller blades that there was a risk factor involved, my belief is that you cannot achieve anything if you do not take risks.