South Africa: 'God Always Puts Something Out for Us' Says Scrap Collector

22 February 2021

Bonteheuwel residents Jeffrey Jagers, Jason Williams, Taswill Snyman and Faizel Smith have loaded their bakkie in Dunoon with old household items to sell to scrapyards. Photo: Peter Luhanga

Four unemployed men in Bontheuwel collect scrap to sell.

They buy charred household items, such as burnt out stoves, after shack fires.

They might only make R100 in a day, but it is better than nothing, they say.

Driving an old rickety bakkie, which they start by hot wiring the wires dangling from underneath the steering wheel, four Bonteheuwel residents crisscross Cape Town in search of trash to sell at scrap yards.

They set out every morning, following their gut instinct when deciding which route to take.

Faizel Smith was 14 years old when he started scavenging to survive. He is now 43, and the father of two. Smith says he enjoys the wide variety of people he meets when hunting scrap.

In Ekuphumuleni informal settlement, behind a municipal hall in Dunoon, the aftermath of a devastating fire that burnt 30 shacks to the ground on 9 February, is a source of scrap. Smith and his three friends wait to collect charred household items, paying the fire victims R50 for a burnt out fridge or R10 for a stove.

On a good day, they can make R1,000, which they split four ways after paying for hire of the bakkie (R400) and its fuel. The owner of the bakkie has helped them with cash to use for purchasing scrap.

Taswill Snyman, 28, dropped out of school as a child to start earning by scavenging. He now has a child aged two.

"Some people will give you the stuff, some will sell. In other areas they chase us and want to beat us. I can't say it's nice or it's bad but we don't have a choice," he says.

"Everyday it's a different story on the street. When I see the bakkie getting full and we get R200 or R100 [each] that is a good day," he says.

"God always puts something out for us. Maybe small, maybe big, but there is always something out there for us," says Snyman.

More From: GroundUp

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 130 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 as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.