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Tough ways to make a living in Joburg

 Homeless Talk (South Africa) 06 January 2019

The struggle for survival in the city does not only breed criminals but new ideas on how to earn something out of nothing. A few unemployed and homeless people are pulling trolleys full of plastics, irons, cardboards or any recyclable material everyday to sell to the nearest scrap collectors. Among such self employed men is Paul Mahungela from Zimbabwe. (476 Words) - By Madoda Mkhobeni

tough ways to make a living

Sfiso rides his trolley on the way to a recycling centre. Photo: Madoda Mkhobeni

He says: "I arrived in South Africa in 2004 with the hope of finding a job but instead ended up sleeping in the streets with nothing to eat. It was difficult to inform my family in Zimbabwe that everything did not happen as anticipated until I realized that many people survive through carrying recyclable material in a trolley and selling it to earn some money. Now I can manage to send some money home and support myself."

He lives under the bridge with fellow homeless people near Carr Street in Newtown, Johannesburg. Mahungela's colleagues hail from as far as Lesotho, Cape Town and Kwa Zulu Natal. Mahungela does not want to disappoint his family in Zimbabwe so makes sure that every time he sends them money he includes a few pictures of himself wearing clean clothes. "I don't want them to know the life I live in Johannesburg. Sometimes I pay my family a visit but still I don't tell them the truth because I don't want to get embarrassed in front of my family," says Mahungela

''I love my family but if they know that I am homeless and sleep in the streets of Joburg, they will quickly invite me back because nobody forced me to leave home. Besides, when I look at the situation in Zimbabwe I realize that nothing has changed as some of my countrymen have a sort of refugee at the Central Methodist Church here in Johannesburg. They also ran away from the very situation we all found ourselves in. It is better in Johannesburg because I can make a living. I wake up early in the morning, pull my trolley and by the end of the day I have sold a couple of boxes to the scrap yard, '' he says.

Sifiso Mthembu from the East Rand also lives in the streets of Johannesburg. Unlike Mahungela, he often visits his family and has told them that he survives by collecting waste material and selling it to recycling centres. He says: "My family was not happy when I told them that I live in the street. However, they got used to it and now they don't have a problem about it. It's better to make a living through selling recyclables than to risk my life by committing crime".

Originally published by Homeless Talk ©

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