NEW Brighton resident Nkululeko Sandi has been uplifting his community for three decades and not even a stroke in 2008 has put a damper on his efforts.
It is this passion to help those around him and his endurance that have earned Sandi a spot among this year's The Herald GM Citizen of the Year finalists.
Going from door to door asking for donations, Sandi – who is unemployed – manages to rake in R50000 every year. The beneficiaries this year were pupils at Charles Duna, Lamani and Phillip Nikiwe primary schools, all in New Brighton.
"I never knew there were people watching what I am doing. I feel honoured. I thank The Herald for making me one of the finalists. I was so surprised when I heard I was a finalist – I still cannot believe it," Sandi said.
"Though I had a stroke in 2008, I told myself I would not stop trying to make a difference. I thank God for giving me the strength to continue.
"I do not care about fame because I had all of that in my boxing days. If I do win, a lot of people will benefit. Even if I do not win, it is okay because I am doing this from my heart."
Sandi's charity work started with a soup kitchen which he opened in 1982. He also started buying uniforms for the disadvantaged children in his neighbourhood.
For those at tertiary institutions, he arranges for donations to be deposited into the institutions' accounts on their behalf.
The former boxer said he was inspired by anti-apartheid veterans like Steve Biko and Chris Hani, whom he said had died poor trying to help others have a better life, and former boxing great Muhammad Ali.
"Other people who inspired me are my mother and grandmother who would dish up for everyone who came to our home," he said.
Lamani deputy principal Noluthando Zantsi said Sandi was a great help. "Our pupils are mostly from poor backgrounds and though he is unemployed, he goes out of his way to help. Even when we have events he organises sponsors for us," she said.