Don’t dream big in Gauteng

2017-08-27 05:59
Informal settlement of Tokoza where Vincent Hlongwane lives. Picture:Thembalethu Mtshali

Informal settlement of Tokoza where Vincent Hlongwane lives. Picture:Thembalethu Mtshali

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More than 50% of South Africans are living below poverty line - Stats SA

2017-08-24 16:51

Statistics South Africa released the 'Poverty trends in South Africa: An examination of absolute poverty between 2006 and 2015' report on Tuesday, revealing a startling increase in poverty rates. Watch. WATCH

Eight years ago, poverty forced Vincent Hlongwane to move from Limpopo to Gauteng to try to make a better life for himself.

The 32-year-old, who has a degree in hospitality management, lives in a shack in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni.

That better life he was looking has mostly been elusive.

Born in Giyani, Hlongwane and his three siblings were raised by his grandmother after his father died and his mother was forced to eke out a living with piece jobs.

“My grandmother, through her state pension, provided for all of us, while my mother tried her best to put food on the table as well. I realised I had to finish school so that me and my family could live a better life,” he says.

After matriculating, Hlongwane was able to secure a loan through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to study at the Tshwane University of Technology.

“After my graduation in 2009, life only became harder. I struggled to find a suitable job, so I had to take what life threw at me.

"In 2010, I worked as a packer at Pick n Pay before finding a job at a petrol station, where I worked from 2011 until 2013.”

However, he couldn’t afford to feed his family and his six-year-old child on his salary, and the child’s mother almost sued him for maintenance.

Stats SA’s poverty trends report demonstrates the value of education to escape poverty.

It found that only 8.4% of people with tertiary qualifications are considered to be poor, compared with 35% of those with matric certificates and 79% of those who have no education.

Hlongwane, who now works as a supervisor at an industrial cleaning company in Alberton, wakes up at 03:00 and walks almost 8km to his job, where he works from 05:00 until 13:00. He earns “between R7 000 and R8 000 a month”.

What Gauteng has offered him is far from what he had imagined, but he has some hope and direction.

Life is not as harsh as it was, but his struggle isn’t over.

“My family in Giyani still depend on me, particularly my mother. My son is also growing and the demands are escalating.

"But it is no longer as difficult as it was because my job pays me more than I used to earn.”

Read more on:    stats sa  |  unemployment  |  poverty

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