Tunatazama - Community Monitors

I am doing it out of love – Zamdela Waste Picker

I interviewed Beauty who is a waste picker in the landfill site at Clydesdale. Her work is hard and it is dirty, with many health dangers. But Beauty is proud of this work. She is so proud that she refuses to accept the dangers that come with. Waste pickers are proud of their work. We must respect them.

Beauty lives in Phase 5 in Zamdela. She is a young women in her early 30’s . She is the mother of 3 children and lives with her husband. Her husband fixes cars. When I interviewed her she was wearing a jean skirt with half boots and a leather jacket.She lived in a shack that was very well furnished.

This is my interview with beauty.

Which landfill site do you work in?

I work in the  Taaibos and Klarsden landfill site near Sasolburg. The landfill is in an abandoned coal mine.

Who is in charge of the landfill site?

The guy who was in charge of the site has passed away two weeks ago in a car accident and we are still waiting for a person to be appointed.

How big is this landfill site.

I really don’t know.

How far is this landfill site from the local community

It is about 1 to 2 kilometres away form the community. People are living all around the landfill site.

What is being dumped at the landfill site

All sorts of waste including chemicals from the firms around.

Who is dumping there

We the community and big companies are dumping there.

How often do they dump

In one landfill site they dump twice a week and the other is 3 times a week.

Why are you doing waste picking?

I’m doing it out of love

For how long have you been a waste picker?

I’ve been a waste picker since 2012 until now 2015.

What are you picking and why?

I’m picking plastic bottles, cans, glass bottles and scrap metals.

I pick plastic bottles because it is quicker to sell. A lot of people buy drinks on a daily basis and therefore there are a lot of bottles around.

Are you working for yourself or are you working for someone?

I’m working with other people , we are a team of 15 , but we share our money monthly.

How much money do you make a day or a month?

We sell our stuff per forth night, which gives us R400 and we share the money monthly. We have a treasurer who holds our money until we share it amongst ourselves.

How do you cope with the bad smell

We use the nosebag to cover our noses.

Do you have any safety or health problems

I do not have health problems

But why do you cover your nose if there are no health problems

To protect against the dust or bad smell

What equipment do you use?

I use hand gloves, nosebag and a reflector vest.

In this interview I learned that waste picking is not a fancy job which you require qualifications. It is still a job and it helps people survive. Beauty appeared proud of her job because she encouraged other people to become waste pickers.

Beauty did not appear to be aware of health problems. It is important that she and other waste pickers receive education to understand health and safety issues so that they can protect themselves.

I myself started waste picking last year, and I stored them in my backyard. I have divided them into milk bottles and drink bottles. Beauty said that she would assist me with bags.

People should respect waste pickers because waste picking is a job that puts food on peoples tables at the same time it helps keep our environment clean.

Municipalities should assist waste pickers  in getting bags and make the landfill sites safe for waste pickers.

VEJA should help waste pickers to have courage so that they can be proud of what they are doing.

By Victoria Riet

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