‘Mr Rubbish’ is an institution at Cascades shopping centre

2013-05-13 00:00

“PLEASE give me all the rubbish inside your car and tip. Smile and be happy,” is the sign hanging from the neck of the famous local rubbish collector also known as “Mr Rubbish”.

Bongani Mkhize, of kwaPata, Edendale, needs no introduction to the motorists who frequent Cascades Shopping mall.

With a sign hanging on his chest, dark sunglasses, a big rubbish bag and the trademark big smile, the 35-year-old father of three negotiates his way cheerfully through the traffic at the intersection of ­McCarthy and Townbush roads.

He greets and chats to the motorists and accepts the rubbish from their cars in exchange for a tip.

Mkhize has been doing this for the last 11 years. He began collecting rubbish from motorists at the Scottsville Mall, but moved to his famous spot four years ago.

“I had to leave Scottsville because there were cases of people breaking into cars and stealing from motorists, so I did not want to be identified with such people,” he explained.

Most of the motorists know and trust Mkhize enough to allow him to collect the rubbish from the back seats of their cars as they wait for the traffic lights to turn green.

Mkhize said he was mocked when he began collecting rubbish for a tip, but he has managed to support his three children — two boys and a girl aged 14, six and three — for the last 11 years.

He said some people spurned his advice to take up a similar job because they felt ashamed to collect rubbish.

“Almost everybody here knows me. If you do something good, you make friends and I have made many friends from doing this,” said Mkhize as he waved to motorists driving by.

However, life at the robots is not always rosy; some motorists swear at him and tell him to go away.

But some of them have returned to apologise.

“Some of the motorists want to unload their stress from home on me, but I always know that I am doing what is good and I love my job,” Mkhize said.

He said of unemployed youths who might be tempted to engage in criminal activities: “People must not just sit around or resort to stealing.

“They must be creative with their minds.

“Jobs are scarce, so people must come up with positive ideas.”

Mkhize collects three big black bags of rubbish a day from cars on weekends, and about one bag a day during the week.

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