Artist Patience Mbueno is fighting a battle with the authorities to sell his sculptures on the streets of Cape Town.
The homeless 52-year-old displays and stores his collection of hydrostone and ceramic sculptures outside his tent in Three Anchor Bay, on a patch of grass opposite the Sea Point Police Station.
The Angolan national says he chose the spot, which has become a small homeless settlement, in the hope of attracting the interest of both local and international clients.
His busts include sculptures of former presidents he claims to have met, including Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton (USA) and Jose Eduardo dos Santos (Angola); and prices start from R75 000.
He says he suffered a major blow after he lost some valuable pieces on 23 August, when the City’s Law Enforcement forcefully removed squatters, resulting in chaos that saw his laptop and some of his artwork stolen and broken.
He says this cost him over R300 000 and wants the City to reimburse him.
Patience says he has opened a case against the City and written a letter of complaint to Mayor Dan Plato.
“I am on the streets because I was exploited by the government and just when I was trying to make something of my life, selling the art to raise money to buy myself a farm, I lose the most valuable ones.
“I have a lawyer involved and I am waiting on a court date.
“How could a crime happen right under their nose.
“They could have called the police just across the street?
“We are homeless because of circumstances, we didn’t choose to be homeless, we are human...living an honest life.
“No one and nothing will ever stop me from doing my art. I will fight for it.”
His friend Edwin Keledone, also homeless, says Patience doesn’t deserve to be on the street.
“This is an internationally recognised artist who has been to parliament, rubbed shoulders with known people and has won awards for his work but was taken advantage of by the opportunists,” he says.
“He used to have a studio and train people, working with the government, but what did he get in the end?”
Patience says he started doing art in primary school and was inspired by superstitions told by his late grandma.
In response to Patience’s claims, the City of Cape Town says: “This matter is sub judice and the City is therefore not able to comment.”
Patience says he is also writing his book titled, The Superstitions that made me the artist I am.