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Lefty’s passing leaves a vacuum on Long Avenue

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He was the friendly face that greeted you, and helped you park when you arrived to meet people for lunch on the kosher strip or to go shopping. He would ask about your family members and let you know who was already waiting for you at Frangelicas or KosherWorld, or one of the outlets on Long Avenue, Glenhazel, before looking after your car while you were gone.

Few knew much about this car guard other than that his name was Lefty, he was kind, smart, and friendly, and he made everyone feel at home. His full name was Lefty Tshoyi, and he hailed from the Eastern Cape.

His sudden absence has been felt around the community, and tributes are pouring in for him since he passed away after a short illness. Many say his passing leaves a deep void in the area.

Lefty was often found outside Fresh Fellas, and looked after cars parked across the whole street from KosherWorld right to the end at PostNet.

“He was really well-known and loved,” says Samantha Riesenberg, who saw him by Fresh Fellas once a week. “Lefty seemed to know everyone who came to Fresh Fellas and their families. The shoppers also took an interest in him.”

Bianca Rubenstein, who lives close to Fresh Fellas, says Lefty always went above and beyond. “He even took out my dustbins for me. Long Avenue chaos won’t be the same without our dear friend.”

Lefty had worked there for a long time, and lived in Alexandra, Johannesburg, says Riesenberg, who helped him when he fell ill. “I took him to the doctor. One or two ladies in the community were always happy to contribute towards his doctor appointments and x-rays.

“He fell ill about a month ago,” she said. “Hatzolah came and took him to Edenvale Clinic. Then he got better and came back.” Lefty fell ill again about two weeks ago. “His neighbour phoned me to say that he was dizzy and confused. An ambulance took him to Edenvale Hospital. He was moved to Tembisa Hospital, where he died.”

Riesenberg says Lefty started as a car guard outside Fresh Fellas after coming to Johannesburg to earn a living and money for his family. “I know he went home every December to see his family. I know he has a mom and a sister. I used to go shopping for him in December, and buy him all the necessary groceries he needed to take home.”

When Lefty wasn’t helping people with their parcels and with reversing out of their parking, he could be found sitting on a small chair under a tree on the pavement opposite Fresh Fellas. A lady who crocheted kippot sat next to him.

“We are going to put a plaque up on that tree,” Riesenberg says. A new car guard has now replaced Lefty.

Says Cheryl Bondi, “Lefty came every year to help us to put up sukkah decorations. He would tell everyone which poster went where, and leave only when he was satisfied that it was perfect.”

Lefty made an impact on Debbie Gottlieb’s son. He chatted to her son when he walked home from school every day. “If my son went away, Lefty always asked me about him. He genuinely cared about everyone. My son was so upset to hear of his passing.”

Jodi Fisher describes Lefty as a mensch. “A couple of years ago, DL Link was collecting money outside KosherWorld. He went with his little bit of money, and made a contribution.”

Says Lindi Rudnicki, “He knew us all by name, and would even tell me when he had seen my daughter drive past during the day.”

“Lefty showed passion and dedication for his job and for those he knew. He was always grateful for what he received, no matter how big or small. A giant of a good man,” says Renee Tobiansky.

Says Robyn Kahlberg, “Lefty showed genuine interest in our families and children over all the years. He was always friendly and cheerful despite his circumstances and truly grateful for any help received. He will be so missed outside Fresh Fellas.”

“He wasn’t only a car guard,” says Isarae Seeff. “He became a somebody when he put his name on his shirt. Always smiling and grateful.”

Says Bondi, “Every time I saw him, he asked after my son, who is overseas. When my son was home, he would grab him to give him a warm welcome.”

Lefty knew about Bondi and Riesenberg’s regular coffee meetings on a Thursday. He would come up to one of them driving in and say that the other one was already there.

Lefty also knew Riesenberg’s sisters-in-law, Terri and Yael, the former describing him as a gentle and friendly man, the latter saying, “Even if you didn’t have change to give him, he still helped with a smile on his face and a wave goodbye.”

Says Denise Swartz, “He always greeted us with, ‘Hello ladies!’ and a smile. He knew our cars, and kept on the lookout for all of us.”

Rubenstein says Lefty knew and enjoyed chatting to all her children.

“A few of us ladies had put money together because he was looking to move into a better accommodation,” says Riesenberg. Lefty and the ladies were going to split the costs 50-50, but his passing scuppered that plan. The money collected by the ladies will be given to the Tshoyi family to put towards Lefty’s funeral.

A written statement by Merissa Moritz on behalf of the community will be given to Lefty’s family at the funeral in the Eastern Cape. “Lefty became part of our community and our everyday,” it reads in part. “He was proud of his family, and always looked forward to coming home. Lefty was so proud of his work. He showed commitment, integrity, and loyalty. He will be sorely missed by us and forever be remembered for the gentleman that he was.”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pam

    Mar 11, 2024 at 2:31 pm

    May you soar with the angels, Lefty, and only know bliss. May you be an angel now, for your family. So uplifting to read about all the people who were touched by Lefty and who touched him in turn. Very heartwarming story, but bittersweet.

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