Meet the entrepreneur who wants to bring cinema to Khayelitsha

Pilot cinema project set to launch at Lookout Hill in June

Photo of men with bins

Buhle Sithela and his crew have a bin cleaning business.

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

22 April 2016

Every Friday, three young entrepreneurs from Harare in Khayelitsha get up early in the morning to start their day. Their business? Cleaning their community’s black wheelie bins.

But founder, 21-year-old Buhle Sithela, says his aim is to use some of the profit from the Khayelitsha Bin Cleaning Project to bring cinema to Khayelitsha and hosting film screenings monthly.

“I started the business in June last year after seeing a need for it. The garbage collection truck comes around every Friday and after the bins are emptied they are left dirty and smelly. I started looking at material that we would need to start the business and found that it wasn’t expensive. I then spoke to two of my friends, Sivuyile Gwabe (21) and Abongile Mqweto (20), who live close by, who were unemployed and not studying. They thought it was a great idea,” said Sithela.

The business started with just five bins and has now grown to about 30. The young men start their day at 8 am every Friday. They go around the neighbourhood to collect the bins from different houses. They line them up for washing and then deliver them to the houses again. Sithela says they work for four hours and sometimes they wash the bins at the owner’s house if it is too far.

“We charge our clients R50 a month, that money guarantees our service to them. We get the money from each client at the first of each month. Our equipment consists of buckets, brooms and chemicals, which we get from a supplier in Mfuleni. We bought our own overalls and gloves as we do not have any suppliers yet.”

Prior to starting the bin cleaning project, Sithela did an events management course at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2014, but had to drop out, he says, because he could not afford it any longer. But luckily he learnt some things and managed to get a job at a film company for which helped host film screening events. He developed a passion for film-making and screening, and thought it would be a good thing to do in his community especially since there were no cinemas in Khayelitsha.

Sithela, together with Sunshine Cinema, an outfit he is interning for, aim to pilot their cinema ideas at Khayelitsha’s Lookout Hill in June.

“I want to bring films to my community and I am trying to raise money to do so. The films screened will be according to the target market: comedy, action, drama.”