Bongiwe Damane from Libode village near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape has been collecting bulk scrap metal for the last 19-years. Finding decent employment has been her biggest challenge.
“I started collecting scrap metal in 2000. What led me to do this is because I can’t find a job. I have also been going around in my village looking for work. They would tell me that I am not poor, so I don’t understand why they would say I am not poor for a person like me who collects scrap metal for a living.”
Damane says there are many dangers involved in collecting scrap metal.
“We load our scrap on the truck from the village, and then the truck will drop us near Dan’s place (on the N2). We then wait for another truck travelling to Durban, to give us a lift from here, and drop us off in Durban. These scrap metals that we carry; we are scared of them because when they are loaded on the truck we are also forced to sit at the back of these trucks. They have snakes and we could die and leave our children behind, we have to do this because we are poor.”
She says sometimes it can take up to a week to get a lift to Durban.
“Here at the truck stop we sit waiting to get a lift to Durban. Sometimes we can wait for a week, or we will be here for 3 days and only get a lift on the fourth day. We stay here in the cold, and when it’s very cold we go and ask for shelter at Dan’s shop…”
Damane says the government should correct all its wrongdoings.
“The only change I have seen is that the government has built us houses and also got people employed. Our children want work. Government should also correct all their wrongdoings and also for those people that have not been built houses to get houses.”
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