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

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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.

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