n the face of it, Vincent Bhengu looks like he has it made.
The suave, well-dressed, 33-year-old chartered accountant has his own thriving business, drives a double-cab bakkie and lives in a townhouse complex in Krugersdorp, west of Joburg.
But he also has an extended family of five siblings, and 16 nieces and nephews who he has to help support – and he cannot afford to marry the love of his life. Bhengu, from Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, says he has been paying truckloads of Black Tax since 2011, the year after he completed his articles at auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
He has also been forced to job-hop, not only because he “always wanted to be my own boss”, he just needed to earn more. “I was unhappy with my salary. It wasn’t enough to look after my family.” After two years of this, he started his own firm, Vigil Chartered Accountants. Although Bhengu would not reveal what he earns each month, he insists it’s not a fortune. But at least he can provide for his family. The youngest of six children, Bhengu is the only one who has a professional qualification. Adding to his list of financial responsibilities are the fees he pays at a private nursing college where his partner, the mother of his two daughters aged three and one, is studying. Also on the list are his repayments to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, which funded his studies. He helped his brothers, both security guards, get a leg up on the job ladder. “I gave one of them money for driving lessons.”
Today he has a driving licence and works for an alarm response company, so he’s earning a decent salary. He sends R6 000 home to Nkandla every month to help support his 16 nieces and nephews because three of his siblings are unemployed.
“I buy my nieces and nephews school uniforms and textbooks, and send grocery money every month,” he says. “This expense comes monthly. And there are things you can’t budget for.” Taking care of his large family affects how much he can save. “I still believe that as a qualified CA, I’m not saving as much I’m supposed to,” he says, adding that his obligations have a huge impact on his lifestyle.
“I have never been to Cape Town in my life. I can’t even afford to have a holiday in the Drakensberg, that’s how bad it is,” he says.
He also wants to marry his partner, but can’t afford the wedding.
“It’s everyone’s dream to get married, but unfortunately a wedding doesn’t come cheap.” It’s rough, but it’s rewarding. “Nothing fulfils me more than making someone’s dream come true,” he says. “Even if I die poor, I will be happy as long as I make the dream come true for everyone who is close to me.”
Money sent home: R6 000 Bond repayments: R5 500 Property levies: R1 500 Car payment: R4 000 Car insurance: R1 500
Petrol: R5 000 Student loan: R600
Savings: R1 500