By Lawrence Mashabela

  • As economic challenges worsen in South Africa, more young people are finding themselves unemployed and homeless, relying on handouts for survival.
  • Michael Rasebokoa, a 25-year-old from the Free State, shares his journey of homelessness after losing his job as a sales representative in Johannesburg.
  • Despite the hardships of living on the streets, Rasebokoa found hope and support at the Wembley Stadium shelter, where he received assistance in rebuilding his life, securing a job as a financial advisor, and obtaining necessary certifications.

With South Africa’s economic challenges deepening, and many young people unemployed, scores of homeless people are springing up in South Africa’s cities as increasing numbers of people find themselves on the street. 

Michael Rasebokoa (25), from the Free State, is part of a group of young people who have found themselves in the street surviving with handouts of food from strangers. Rasebokoa came to Johannesburg in pursuit of better opportunities, unfortunately, things did not go well for him.

Rasebakoa worked as a sales rep in the retail industry and immediately after losing his job, he started to struggle to pay his monthly rent and ended up being kicked out of the rented place in Diepkloof, Soweto, and subsequently had no place to go. He said he had no other option but to sleep on the dangerous streets of Johannesburg.

“I didn’t know where to go, I didn’t know anyone in Johannesburg, I tried to get refuge from a friend but because he was staying with his family in a rented place it didn’t work out,” he said.

“Being homeless is not a nice experience and it is even more painful when some think people just choose to live in the street. No one would choose to live in the cold where your safety is compromised. At some point, I was working and everything was all right, I was able to pay my bills, and all of a sudden I was jobless and had no place to stay.”

Raseboka said he stayed on the street of Hillbrow for about 8 months before he was referred to Wembley Stadium shelter for the homeless early this year. He said the shelter gave him hope again and now he is working on rebuilding his life.

“One day I went to some church in Hillbrow, that’s where I was linked to shelter. I came here with nothing as I had sold all my belongings while trying to make ends meet.”

He said since he was admitted into the shelter his life has changed tremendously. He even managed to bag himself a financial advisor job at Discovery in Sandton. He said the shelter also assisted him in receiving RE5 certificates which is a regulatory examination for representatives. 

“I am grateful because today I am working as a financial advisor because of the RE5 certificate I received through the Wembley shelter”, he said.

To other people who are suffering the same fate, Rasebakoa said they must not lose hope.

“I would encourage anyone who is going through a tough time to pick themselves up and continue fighting, someone will eventually hear them out,” he added.

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