A team of five ladies who are in their early 60’s are recycling for a living at Mamelodi East. They started recycling at the beginning of this year to make extra money to feed their families. They collect glass bottles and sells them to a large glass recycling company. Although they get grant money every month from the government it still doesn’t seem to be enough to keep them going. Rachel Kekana, 67 is living with her 7 grandchildren. She said the money that she gets from recycling helps her to take care of them. “I’m happy that I don’t ask anything from anyone, I get my pocket money for bread every day for my grandchildren and I can get anywhere I want with this money,” said Rachel Kekana.
The old ladies visit every dumping site around Mamelodi to collect the glass bottles and recycle them. “We walk everywhere in Mamelodi, especially in the mornings after events,” said Rachel. The women claim that the municipality takes their all money every month and leaves them with nothing, They “over charge” the rent bills and they don’t understand why they should sometimes pay over for their services and yet they believe they don’t use as much. “The municipality takes all of our money, we don’t even know how much we use but we pay so much, they block water and shut electricity down when we can’t afford to pay and we are not working we only survive from grant money. So recycling helps me to survive,” said Rachel.
Mmina-Tau Seabelo Marishane, the ward councilor said, ‘we live in a metropolitan city where it is required that basic services such as water, electricity, waste management and sanitation should be paid for. They all fall within the scope of what the city provides and the municipality unfortunately do charge for those services and these become a problem to those who can’t afford to pay.’ He mentioned that it is difficult for those who are employed and worst for those who are not employed, more especially pensioners who are taking care of their grandchildren. “We offer indigent programs, where we assist people including pensioners who can’t afford to pay rates and taxes. We give them 400lt of water for free and 100kw electricity for free. These people are not liable to pay for these services. We put them into programs under certain conditions and only if they qualify to be part of the program. There are some people who use them wisely and can survive for a period of a month,” said the ward councilor.
Marishane said for those who are not aware of the program, they should visit the municipality and check if they qualify or fit the program and apply. They also offer Affordability Assessment program, where they assist people who are employed and earn an income. They sit with those people and discuss their income and expenses, then they determine a figure and come into an agreement on how much they can afford to pay their services and debt if they have any.
By: Fortunate Machaba