Searching for scraps

2016-08-02 10:03
Picking up recyclable material has become a way of life for the unemployed so that they can put food on the table.

Picking up recyclable material has become a way of life for the unemployed so that they can put food on the table. (TIYESE JERANJI)

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With unemployment rife, those that don’t have jobs are forced to go to dump pits and pick up things that they can recycle to put food on the table.

Youth from Lavender Hill, Vrygrond and the surrounding areas wake up early in the morning and sit next to the dump, waiting for the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement officers to leave the site so they can go in to look for recyclables.
Come rain or thunder, they are always there.
They say life is unbearable without work.

Jesse September says they start to gather at 07:00 in the morning.

“We sit here and wait for 16:00. Then we go in the dump site and scratch through the rubbish and see what we can get. At times you’re lucky and you get more things to take to the recycle office, then get paid. We don’t really make money. On a good day you can pick up things that can give you R50. But most of the times we make just R30,” he says.

In the dump, they look for things that can be recycled, like tins and other scrap material.
Hamish Paulse says they live from hand to mouth. “We take each day as it comes. I mostly make R30 a day which I use to buy bread and polony for the day, then I sleep. With the remainder of the money I buy a small packet of sugar or a candle just to keep me going. Then I wait for the next day. At times you don’t pick anything,” he says,

The dump site has also become a source of hope for unemployed mothers to feed their children.

Mornick Gobodwana (25), a mother of a three-year-old boy, says she has to come to the dumpsite to feed her child.

“Life is difficult. I take my child with because there is no-one to leave him with. If I don’t do this, I won’t eat and I won’t have anything to feed my child. I come here because I know I will at least have money for bread for my child. It really pains me that I can’t find a job. To survive I have to go to the dump site every day. It’s dangerous and we get sick, but this is the only way to survive.”

They feel government is not doing enough to boost youth employment.

“We don’t have anything to look forward to – no jobs, no houses, no toilets, no running water. The government has to try harder to make sure that we get jobs. A lot of people are not employed and they end up doing drugs and crime. We need a turnaround of things. It’s not nice to have to survive by scratching the dump site. It’s not on. We do it because we have no choice and we have to eat,” says Gobodwana.


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