Single father supports children and saves for university by waste picking for metal - Mzansi Stories

Thursday, October 19

Mahlatse Ramatseba

Single father supports children and saves for university by waste picking for metal

Single father supports children and saves for university by waste picking for metal

Andile Zondi is a waste picker on the New England Landfill Site in Pietermaritzburg. The 38-year-old single father lives in Tamboville with his two daughters, aged six and 13. Collecting copper, brass, aluminium and tins, he has been able to pay for his children’s school fees, clothe them and buy groceries.
Zondi wakes up at 4 am to get his daughters ready for school. He then goes to the dump.
Nine years ago he lost his job as a company driver. He tried but could not find new employment. He says that from when he started the number of waste pickers has drastically increased. He is now one of the hundreds of waste pickers at the New England Landfill Site.
“I was introduced to this work by my elder brother,” says Zondi. “I had no choice but to be responsible as a father.”
“If you are a parent you cannot be picky about any job. I have learnt that the hard way,” he says.
“When I first started it was not a walk in the park … I had to learn how to differentiate types of steel. At first, I collected copper and sold it to scrapyards. I was only getting R30 per kilogram and that didn’t make any difference at home. I had to roll up my sleeves and learn what else to pick and sell to make more money. I then started collecting brass and tins or anything that is steel.”
In time, he says, he made peace with the idea of being a waste picker and he works hard at it.
“The minimum I make is R1,400 and the maximum is R2,000 [per month],” says Zondi.The children’s social grants go to the mother of the children who do not stay with them.
“My children have dreams and I want to see them prospering and reaching the tertiary level [of education]. I am already saving for my daughters’ higher education level.”

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