Sunday Times

South Africans who went from boom to bust

TV se­ries tells sto­ries of real South Africans who blew wind­falls

- By LEONIE WAG­NER Money Tips · Lottery · Gambling · Toyota Corolla · Toyota Motor Corporation · Volkswagen · Volkswagen Caribe · Puerto Rico · Vanuatu · Lifehacks

● A Brits tyre-maker who played the Lotto re­li­giously spent R500 over two years, hop­ing his luck would change.

One Satur­day in 2008 he hit the jack­pot, net­ting R1.8m.

And then it took him just four years to run through the money.

His pri­or­ity when he won was to build his mother a house, which cost him al­most R800,000.

He bought him­self new clothes, a cell­phone and four ve­hi­cles — a sec­ond-hand Toy­ota Corolla for R40,000, a bakkie, a minibus and a Golf GTI.

To­day, all that re­mains is the home he built for his mom.

He to­talled two cars in ac­ci­dents and, un­able to af­ford the main­te­nance on the minibus and the Golf GTI, sold them.

Now the un­em­ployed fa­ther of four lives with his mother and re­lies on money from fam­ily and friends to get by.

The man — known only by his first name, Thabo, to “pro­tect his pri­vacy”, ac­cord­ing to the pro­duc­ers of the TV se­ries in which he fea­tures — doesn’t play the Lotto any­more.

“I learnt that I should’ve lis­tened to the fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers and in­vested the money. I in­vested some of the money but then with­drew it af­ter a year. With more money comes a nice life. I en­joyed it but now it’s hard. Life is harder now be­cause I know what it’s like to have that kind of money,” he said.

His story is told in the se­ries I Blew It, which pre­miered on DStv last night. It tracks the for­tunes of peo­ple who come into money by chance, an in­her­i­tance or pay­out.

For Nonhlanhla, a car ac­ci­dent changed her life. She went from a R3,000 monthly salary to splurg­ing on de­signer sneak­ers and be­com­ing the lo­cal mi­cro lender thanks to a pay­out from the Road Ac­ci­dent Fund (RAF).

A car ac­ci­dent in 2013 left her with se­vere back pain, con­stant headaches and in­juries to both hands. Four years af­ter her ac­ci­dent, she re­ceived a R1m pay­out from the fund and the first thing she did was quit her job, be­liev­ing she could live off her pay­out.

“You think it’s not go­ing to fin­ish. It took me eight months and then I re­alised I sud­denly didn’t have as much money left,” the sin­gle mother said.

She spent R60,000 ren­o­vat­ing her grand­mother’s house, took her rel­a­tives on weekly shop­ping sprees, bought a used minibus for about R150,000, and splurged on sports bags, clothes and sneak­ers.

She also be­came the neigh­bour­hood lender, loan­ing close to R10,000 — money she says she is still owed to this day.

“Ev­ery­one was call­ing me about their prob­lems and wanted to bor­row money … it wasn’t long be­fore I had what we call ghost money, you have it but you don’t know what hap­pens to it.

“Last year was so rough. I thought I had every­thing, then I re­alised R1m is like R10,000, it’s noth­ing. I re­gret get­ting the money,” she said.

In ad­di­tion, blinded by love, she said, she splurged on her beau — who she later broke up with — buy­ing R4,000 rims for his car and pimp­ing the sound sys­tem for R10,000.

“I wasn’t think­ing straight and now I have a lot of re­grets. If some­one asks me for ad­vice, I’ll tell them to in­vest the money, for­get about boys and live your life like you used to, don’t change,” she said.

Per­haps her big­gest re­gret is quit­ting her job as a sales agent at a call cen­tre.

She has less than R200,000 left in her bank ac­count. Her mother and brother run a trans­port busi­ness us­ing the minibus she bought.

Some­one else who blew his money on the good life — par­ties, ex­pen­sive al­co­hol and gold jew­ellery — is Harold from Lim­popo.

Ini­tially he had the right idea when he re­ceived R1m from his late mother’s life in­sur­ance poli­cies.

He used R270,000 to build four rooms on his prop­erty, to rent out for ad­di­tional in­come.

Then he dropped R40,000 on a Volk­swa­gen Golf VeloCiti, bought a cup­board full of new clothes and suc­cumbed to his pen­chant for gold with a bracelet and four rings worth R17,000.

His flashy life­style at­tracted a new group of friends and his days — and funds — were spent en­ter­tain­ing them.

Soon the money ran out.

“I sud­denly had friends that were never my friends, peo­ple just wanted money to drink,” he said.

“There was also a lot of peer pres­sure, peo­ple were tor­ment­ing me. I had to with­draw money to show them that I had money. I learnt that friends are like flies, when­ever there’s noth­ing to eat, you won’t see a lot of flies, but when there’s food, you’ll see the flies and you won’t have to in­vite them,” he said.

The un­em­ployed fa­ther of three now lives on R4,700 a month — the rent from the rooms he built.

In­de­pen­dent fi­nan­cial ad­viser Philip Malan said a lot of peo­ple who come into money they have not worked for get ad­vice from the wrong peo­ple.

Win­ning any­thing less than R4m is “small change”, said Malan, be­cause that amount is not enough to sus­tain any­one.

“It’s OK to buy a de­cent house or a de­cent car, but my ad­vice is never stop work­ing. Your big­gest as­set is the abil­ity to gen­er­ate an in­come,” Malan said.

M-Net’s PR man­ager of lo­cal en­ter­tain­ment chan­nels, Ryan van Heerden, said the show tack­les some im­por­tant so­ci­o­log­i­cal ques­tions around fi­nan­cial wind­falls.

“The show will doc­u­ment the psy­cho­log­i­cal jour­ney or­di­nary South Africans go through when sud­denly given a large sum of money,” he said.

“The sub­ject mat­ter of the show is highly in­trigu­ing while re­main­ing en­ter­tain­ing. View­ers can see and learn from the mis­takes of the par­tic­i­pants, with­out ex­pe­ri­enc­ing their tur­moil.”

 ??  ?? Thabo built his mother a house worth close to R800,000 and bought him­self four cars with his Lotto win­nings.
Thabo built his mother a house worth close to R800,000 and bought him­self four cars with his Lotto win­nings.
 ?? Pic­ture: Thapelo Morebudi ?? Nonhlanhla bought a minibus, among other things, with her ac­ci­dent pay­out.
Pic­ture: Thapelo Morebudi Nonhlanhla bought a minibus, among other things, with her ac­ci­dent pay­out.
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