It started with a goodwill gesture, but a Uitenhage man’s passion to help others quickly spread across his community as he began giving home after home much-needed facelifts.
When the homes of Mzukisi Toba’s neighbours burnt to the ground in 2015, he jumped at the challenge to raise money for building materials and household goods, quickly restoring dignity to the two families living in Gulunguza, KwaNobuhle.
But that was just the beginning for the father of three, who then made it his mission to help more vulnerable families in Uitenhage.
Toba, 45, a Volkswagen SA operator, depends on fundraising and if that is not enough, he digs deep into his own pocket to buy building materials to fix the houses.
Toba, who is a Herald Citizen of the Year nominee, has already fixed four houses in KwaNobuhle.
“I do not relax when I see people struggling,” he said.
“Something inside me tells me I have to do something – it is a feeling that says I must not allow people to struggle.”
Toba is busy working on a house in Angola, KwaNobuhle, damaged by a fire on June 11.
Toba was at the house this week with David Goldberg, owner of KwaNobuhle Build It, and a former Port Elizabeth attorney.
Goldberg is fascinated by what Toba is doing for his community.
“This is fantastic. He has taken it upon his own accord to help the community,” Goldberg said.
“We would have done a lot together, had he approach us from the beginning.”
Goldberg has promised to plaster the inside of the house in Angola.
“I have never met anyone in the community doing it on his own accord. I am fully committed to this cause,” he said.
Toba said: “We rely on donations to do our work and if it’s not enough, I get it from my own pocket.
“There is so much need in the community. We could have done more, if only we had the means.”
Thulisa Damane, 20, one of 11 people living inside the two-bedroom house in Angola, said the fire had likely started from an exposed electricity meter box.
“As a family, we are grateful to the work done by Toba,” Damane said.
“He fixed the roof, windows, furniture and even the fridge.
“He has done quite a lot for us as a family and were are very happy.”
Toba said he did the work in his spare time, while also arranging concerts to raise funds for the families living in damaged RDP houses.
“I am working hand-in-hand with a gospel group from Motherwell – and the aim is to raise funds.
“The money is then channelled towards helping the needy,” he said.
The biggest amount raised with a concert had been R16 000, with the money used for building supplies, groceries, furniture and clothing.