Gloria Matsala walks 10km to wait for work on the side of the road. This month she earned R100

2019-01-31 07:12
Gloria Matsala (left) and Cathrine Khoza wait at the side of the road for an employer to stop and offer them domestic work. (Kimberly Mutandiro, GroundUp)

Gloria Matsala (left) and Cathrine Khoza wait at the side of the road for an employer to stop and offer them domestic work. (Kimberly Mutandiro, GroundUp)

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Gloria Matsala walks more than 10km each morning from her home in Benoni to the upmarket Brakpan suburb where she waits on the side of the road in the hope of being picked up for a day of domestic work.

Forty-two-year-old Matsala lives in Lindelani informal settlement in Kingsway. She leaves home at 05:00 to walk to Brenthurst, to the traffic light at the corner of Voortrekker and Craven roads. She hopes that one of the shoppers at the nearby Pick n Pay will offer her work, GroundUp reports. 

"My feet are tired from walking back and forth every day, but l come anyway because my children need money for this and that."

But Matsala does not always find work. Last year jobs at the spot were scarce. This month, by the 25th, she has only been offered a single day job for which she earned R100.

"Getting that job which paid me R100 was a good sign. Maybe it will be a better year."

Her husband left her to raise their son alone.


"When it comes to housework, I'm an expert"


"I have never learnt any other work, but when it comes to housework, I'm an expert. My shack back in Kingsway is always spotless. If only l could get a full-time house cleaning job it would make life easier."

Matsala says a friend of hers who used to wait at the same spot no longer comes because she was raped by an employer who picked her up there.

But Matsala has not stopped coming.

Up to 10 women can be seen early in the morning at the corner spot. Early birds have the best chance of work, but often only one or two people are offered jobs.

"There are more people in the morning and we often race to a car when it comes looking for people. The strongest get to the car first. It is survival of the fittest," says Cathrine Khoza, 52.

Khoza has just found a full-time job. Like Matsala, she used to walk all the way from Lindelani in Kingsway. Until she got her new job, she only managed to find one day's work in January.

About 9km away is another spot where women wait, near a Spar in the Brakpan suburb of Dalview.


"Gone are the days when kitchen jobs were easy to come by"


Elizabeth Mokoena, 36, from Lesotho, is a regular there. She walks 7km daily to Dalview in the hope of finding work.

She has been coming since August 2018 when her current employer cut the number of days she works from three to one a week.

"Gone are the days when kitchen jobs were easy to come by. I have not found a job in January."

Mokoena says she and her husband can hardly afford to send money to their children in Lesotho.

"Sometimes when a car stops, men ask to pick us up for sex work instead," says Patience Marunda, from Zimbabwe.

"If you tell them you are looking for domestic work, they drive away."

She came to South Africa in August 2018 and has been juggling between the occasional jobs she gets at the spot and selling brooms.

Marunda is hoping to get a full-time job to support her three children back home in Mashonaland East and to bring them to South Africa.

Nyasha Chidenyika is also from Zimbabwe. She has been looking for work at the spot since coming to South Africa in October 2018. She shares a room with a friend in Brakpan, splitting the rent of R1 000 a month. Like the other women, she hopes to find a permanent job.

"The situation back home in Zimbabwe is not good. If l find work, I will bring my children to South Africa."

"Standing on the road looking for work as a woman is not easy. We have no choice," says Mokoena.

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