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Bergie collecting recyclables in Stellenbosch

Bergie is a term used for a subsection of homeless people in Cape Town, South Africa. The word originates from the Afrikaans berg meaning "mountain" – the term originally referred to the homeless people who sheltered in the forests of the slopes of Table Mountain. The synonymous term stroller typically refers to street children living a bergie lifestyle.[1][2][3]

They are vagrants and scavengers, sometimes begging, performing odd jobs or working as informal car guards for tips. Most of them are Cape Coloureds who speak Afrikaans mixed with a few English terms, and are known for their sense of humour, vulgar language and alcohol consumption.[4][5][6]

Their lifestyle is portrayed in the 1987 novel The Strollers by Lesley Beake,[7] the 1998 documentary film Pavement Aristocrats: The Bergies of Cape Town by François Verster,[4] and the play Suip!, a black comedy co-written and directed by Heinrich Reisenhofer.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Michaelides, G.G. (1977). Candid Cape Town: A Discreet Guide to the Cape Peninsula. Cape Town: Struik. p. 56. ISBN 9780869770900. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Burchfield, Robert, ed. (1994). The Cambridge History of the English Language Volume 5: English in Britain and Overseas, Origins and Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 471. ISBN 9780521264785. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Pansegrouw, Louisa (1994). Pansegrouw's Crossword Dictionary. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman. p. 759. ISBN 9780636019577. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Ozinsky, Sheryl; Woulidge, Sam; Senekal, Jurie (2003). Cape Town Don't Tell: The Mother City's (hush-hush) must-do list. Cape Town, South Africa: Struik Publishers. p. 195. ISBN 9781868728725. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Barnard, Deirdre (2003). Fat, Fame and Life with Father. Cape Town: Double Storey. p. 100. ISBN 9781919930343. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Barnard, Madeleine (2007). Cape Town Stories. Cape Town, South Africa: Struik. p. 157,168. ISBN 9781868729401. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Beake, Lesley (1987). The Strollers. Pinelands, Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman. ISBN 9780636010567. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Play launches South Africa festival". BBC News. 19 April 2001. Archived from the original on 15 June 2014. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
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