Shameeg Fagodien has been selling ice creams, cold drinks and bottled water on Camps Bay beach for the past seven years. Every day he walks the beach with his iceboxes, calling out the rhymes that ice cream sellers are known for in the Western Cape. He spoke to RA’EESA PATHER about his job and summers in Cape Town.
My best memory is the first day I came here. It was very hot, and some people thought I was going to run away with their money. But they got to know me, and they learned that I work hard.
There’s nothing better than to be on the beach. The best part is talking to people and making up rhymes: A lolly to make you jolly, a water for your daughter, a Coke light to keep the figure tight, or a Caramel Crunch is better than lunch, don’t be shy I’m the coloured guy. They just come into my head, I sit and think of the rhymes like … “A Coke Zero! Who wants to be a hero?” I like to make people laugh.
When it’s hot, I love to be in the water. I could go into that ocean a hundred times. Oh man, but I love to swim.
During winter, I have to look for something else to keep me busy, because how else are my children going to eat? How are they going to get clothes for school?
We working on commission. We must sell to earn our wages. I earn R5 commission on ice creams, R3 on cooldrink, and R3 on water.
You have to get a permit to work on each beach.
On weekends I’m at Clifton because I don’t have a permit to work in Camps Bay, and that’s the way it works. Some guys come here to sell and they don’t have permits to work on the beach. We can’t do anything about that.
We a lot of guys working here, there’s about 25 or 30 of us and it’s hard to make sales. It’s hard work, but what can you do? We live in the townships. I’m from Manenberg.
We must struggle for our children. I sold three ice creams today. A taxi costs R20, and that’s the money we get. But I say thank you to God for what I have, because some people go to bed with less.
Life in Manenberg is very difficult. There’s gangsterism, and they’re shooting now. The children are going for gangsterism, but they don’t know what that life is. I was a gangster, I didn’t know what it meant to be one, but now I’m grown up and I realise what it is.
When my first child was born, I learned that gangster life wasn’t worth it and I got out. I want to see my grandchildren. One day they might need me, so I need to stick around, and I changed my lifestyle.
Being here keeps me away from everything in Manenberg. Everything at home is gone, it’s like I’m part of the beach here. I meet other people, I talk and have fun, I don’t worry about home. But when it comes to the end of the day, and I must go home with the taxi, it all comes back. I wonder if I’ve made enough for my children.
Camps Bay is very different to Manenberg. Our mothers told us to go to school and get an education so that we could live like the people who stay here.
Today isn’t the same like it was in those years, now we can come and work, we can take our opportunities, and I can earn for my children.
I’ll still be here in five or six years’ time. If God gives me the strength, I’ll appreciate it.
– As told to Ra’eesa Pather