Sunday, May 20, 2012
Weekend Post Articles - Saturday, May 19th
Font Page Article, “The forgotten people”
Thousands of desperately poor people – some as young as five years old – are eking out an existence on rubbish dumps in and around Nelson Mandela Bay. Each day they converge on the putrid dumps to try and find something that may feed their families or bring in some money.
The hopelessness of these people, who scavenge 12 hours a day for scraps – including fish more than a week old – clothing and plastic and tin cans to sell, is borne out by the fact that many have been doing so for more than a decade because permanent work continues to elude them.
The situation has been described as “sickening” and a “ticking time bomb” by politicians who say it is a direct result of the government’s failure to address unemployment effectively through its ongoing grand system. Despite moves by organizations like the SA Waste Pickers Association to utilize the dump scavengers in the country’s recycling programmes, an investigation by Weekend Post this weeks revealed the situation goes way beyond simple environmental concerns.
At tips in Nelson Mandela Bay and the Sundays River Valley Weekend Post found that:
* Children as young as six years old forgo school to scavenge for food scraps. There are also waste pickers as old as 70 who are forced to scavenge despite receiving a social grant.
(When asked why these children were not in school, adults responded that education came in a “distant second” when a youngster was “starving.”)
* The unemployed at the dumps no longer care if they get sick, as long as they have food to give their desperate families.
* Many pickers are products of broken homes where the household breadwinner has either left or died, leaving a large family behind. (It is estimated that on average 100 people visit each individual tip in the province each day.)
* The most a picker can expect to make is about R80 a week, either through small change from people depositing rubbish or by selling bottles, plastic and other waste.
*Many scavengers have a high school education but have not been able to secure employment for years.
* Waste pickers operate from 6a.m to 7pm, seven days a week. (Legislation dictates that dumps should be fenced in, although when a person is starving that will not stop them. There is heavy machinery dumping all day and of course there are sharp instruments among the rubbish. If a person gets injured they can get an infection.)
*The families of the scavengers are large and most members are unemployed at home.
*Those living off the dumps are regularly chased away because nearby residents blame them for crime in the area. For this reason they live in shacks on the periphery of the dumps.
*contrary to public opinion those living on or scrounging from dumps exhibit a “sharing” mentality and seldom fight.
Article, “Family in shock as death driver released”
The family of a teenager who was killed in a hit-and-run accident on the Seaview Road last week are shocked and confused after the driver allegedly involved in the incident was released without being charged. Rebecca said, “Someone should pay for Mpumelelo’s death but nothing will bring my son back. I don’t have any grudges because I am a Christian. . . We had such big dreams for our son. He wanted to study business after school and now all those dreams have been ripped away."
Rebecca said her son was a keen soccer player and runner. "He loved his books and was always studying." Walmer High School principal Lunga Dyani agreed. “He was a good student because he was never brought to my office because he had done something wrong.”
The youngster’s mother said she was angry because of the tragic way her son died and reports of the incident being a “race issue.” According to police reports and witnesses a silver car slammed into Mpumelelo at about 9 p.m. last Friday while he and three of his friends were walking home to Bushy Park from Mount Pleasant.
It has been reported that he was flung 16 meters in the air and landed in the bush. Before the teenager was struck the occupants of the vehicle allegedly shouted at the group and threw a beer bottle at them. The driver then reportedly swerved and hit one of the youngsters on the leg.
The young men in the car allegedly hurled racial slurs at the victims during the incident. According to witnesses the driver then turned his headlight onto bright and sped toward Apleni, slamming into him before speeding off.
Principal Dyani said the incident showed there was “something wrong with our society. It is ironic that a boy of his caliber, a peace-,loving boy, died so tragically. Hundreds of fellow pupils, friends, family and teachers gathered at the school on Wednesday for Mpumelelo’s memorial service. His friends sang songs in honour of the young sportsman as his mother wiped away tears.
A classmate described Mpumelelo as brave, obedient and always willing to go above and beyond what was expected of him. “We wanted to grow old with you, share our dreams with you, but now you are gone. Mpumelelo is survived by his parents and three brothers. His funeral will take place today.