South Africa: COVID-19 - Residents Lend a Helping Hand to Waste Picker in Benoni

"If many people offer help to waste pickers during this difficult time of the coronavirus, South Africa will be a better place," says waste picker

Sipho Majola, a 59-year-old waste picker from Benoni, says news of the lockdown reduced him to tears because it meant he could no longer move freely to collect recyclable materials.

"When I heard about the lockdown and how our selling points would be closed for 21 days, my eyes filled with tears, wondering what my wife and I would eat," he says.

Majola and his wife live in one of the old railway houses next to the Benoni train station. He has been a waste picker for more than five years. He says he came to Gauteng more than 20 years ago from the Eastern Cape to find work, but only managed to find occasional piecemeal jobs. He eventually started collecting waste material in and around Benoni, and sold it in town to survive.

Majola says he was collecting materials in Wattville a few days before the lockdown started two weeks ago, when a family approached him and offered to give him weekly food parcel until the lockdown ended. He says other residents have since set aside recyclable items for him to collect each week.

"Suddenly my tears turned into joy. If it wasn't for the well wishers l don't know what my wife and I would eat."

He says residents advised him to worry about his health "as l am already an old man", and stay safe from contracting the Coronavirus. "If it wasn't for the residents, I would have had no choice but to walk my usual rounds collecting recyclable material".

GroundUp spoke to Majola while he was pulling his trolley along the road in Wattville where he had collected his food and recyclables. He says he used to pull his trolley as far as Brakpan and Springs, some 15km away. "It feels good not to work too hard for once in my life," he says.

"The work that we do is not easy, but we have no choice. It will be a long year before l can get a pension. l just have to endure until then."

Majola urged other Benoni residents to help waste pickers with food and other essential goods to help them survive during lockdown. "If many people offer help to waste pickers during this difficult time of the coronavirus, South Africa will be a better place," he said.

GroundUp is being sued after we exposed dodgy Lottery deals involving millions of rands. Please help fund our defence. You can support us via Givengain, Snapscan, EFT, PayPal or PayFast.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: GroundUp

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.