Bread from rubbish

2015-12-16 06:00
SCAVENGING: Moeketsi Ntopo survives by selling rubbish.  Photo: Sidwell Guduka

SCAVENGING: Moeketsi Ntopo survives by selling rubbish. Photo: Sidwell Guduka

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

THIS festive season, many people will “shop until they drop”.

However, there is nothing festive about this time of year for the scavengers at the Bloemfontein dump near the South Park Cemetery.

In fact, there is nothing festive in their lives at any time of the year.

Express visited the area last week and found the scavengers doing what they do all year round: looking for materials that can be recycled, which they can sell.

They spend their days collecting cans, plastic bags and containers, cardboard boxes, bottles and other items that people throw away without a thought.

While other people are baking or buying Christmas cakes, they worry about putting bread on the table.

The majority of scavengers Express spoke to said public holidays were ordinary working days for them.

Moeketsi Ntopo (28), of Sejake in Mangaung, said he had been surviving on money he made from selling what other people regarded as rubbish.

“I have been collecting rubbish and selling it for cash. I am not ashamed of my job. If I don’t come to the dump, my wife and I will starve to death,” said Ntopo.

“To us, Christmas and New Year’s Day have no meaning. We must come to the dump to get recycling material – or we won’t have food and electricity in our homes.

“This dump is like a second home to us, because it helps to put bread on the table – even if we don’t make enough money. We are just grateful we are able to feed our families through the money we make.”

One of the scavengers who requested to stay anonymous, said: “I am from Lesotho. I came to the Republic (South Africa) to look for greener pastures. But I found out that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

“The motivation for me to come here was to search for employment, but I couldn’t get it. If you can’t get a job, because of a lack of skills and necessary documentation, or because of your age, you are forced to become a scavenger to survive.

“I am going back home to spend Christmas Day with my wife and children. I will come back to the Republic in the new year. I really love this country, because people are very friendly here,” he said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Financial advisors – Do you need one and should you get one?

The good, the bad, and everything else you need to know when considering hiring a financial advisor.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.