Zimbabwean man makes money repairing torn bank notes

Mr Sibangiswani Moyo makes money by joining pieces of a torn $2 note at his base on the pavement in the Bulawayo city centre recently. Right, Mr Moyo painting on a T-shirt. — Pic By Dennis Mudzamiri

WHAT started as a pastime for Bulawayo-based paper sculpturist-cum-vendor Mr Sibangiswani Moyo has turned into an income generating project.

Mr Moyo (34) of Barbourfields has a strong passion for paper craft, a piece of art, which he mastered at a tender age.

Paper craft is artwork with paper or card as the primary medium for the creation of one, two or three-dimensional objects.

After failing his Ordinary Level examinations, Mr Moyo did not know that paper craft would later in life turn into a useful survival tool for him. He has managed to carve a niche for himself as a self-taught paper sculpturist operating on a pavement in the city’s central business district.


Through his business, Mr Moyo manages to pay his monthly rentals and also looks after his elderly grandmother, mother and his five-year-old son. He charges US$3 for drawings on each T-shirt and makes about $80 per day from repairing torn bank notes.

He said it took a lot of courage for him to venture into the streets of Bulawayo where he repairs torn bank notes for a fee.

“I started two years ago after my torn bank notes were rejected at a local supermarket. This is what actually motivated me as an artist into using my skills to come up with an idea of repairing money,” said Moyo. “I discovered that I’m skilful and decided to use my hands to help members of the public in the same predicament.”

Mr Moyo, a former Sobukhazi High School pupil, said despite his poor performance at school he saw an opportunity in repairing torn bank notes and designing T-shirts and that has economically transformed his life.

“I have always had a passion for art at a tender age and I remember when I was doing Grade One my teacher chucked me out of class for drawing cartoons during lessons. I eat, drink and sleep art and that is what makes my life tick,” he said.

Mr Moyo uses water which he mixes with a few drops of glue to repair torn bank notes.

“The reason for thinning glue with water is to make sure that it gets absorbed properly by the bank note and this also makes the glue layer thin and almost unnoticeable. I am an art person and my strength largely lies on paper craft, which is why it wasn’t difficult for me to learn how to neatly repair banknotes,” said Mr Moyo. “Most of the time, damaged bank notes are always salvageable. As long as one has three quarters of the bill with the serial number visible, it is usually savable.”

His charges depend on the extent of the damage of the bank note.

Mr Moyo operates on a pavement along 8th Avenue between Fife and Jason Moyo streets. He draws his clientele largely from members of the public, mostly shoppers whose money would have been rejected in shops.

Teenagers are his major customers in terms of T-shirt drawings. He has been in the business for the past two years.

“I love paper craft whereby you join pieces of paper and come up with something unique out of it. People bring their plain T-shirts and they request me to design and put colour and usually they come up with a design of their choice and I do the job for them,” he said.

Mr Moyo says his drawings are inspired by his surroundings and nature.

“I also love playing video games and some characters portrayed there fascinate me so much such that as an artist I always have the urge to do a sketch on them,” he said.