Jobless trio clean Makhanda’s streets for free

“We can’t wait for the authorities to come and clean up”

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Unemployed trio Lukhanyo Booi, Lali Booi and Tembelani Mnyani are cleaning Makhanda Streets for free. Photo: Loyiso Dyongman

Lukhanyo Booi, Lali Booi and Tembelani Mnyani are three men from Fingo Village in Makhanda who have taken it upon themselves to clean up the town’s dirty streets. Armed with rakes and shovels, and sometimes using their bare hands, the three move around the city streets removing domestic refuse and filth.

On Monday and Tuesday they were cleaning Milner and Fitzroy Streets in the centre of town.

Lukhanyo Booi, 54, said the last time he worked was in a construction company in 2014. He said he lives with his family. “My family supports me, but I would take any type of job.”

“We love our town and we are doing this with all our hearts. We would welcome anyone who could give us something but that’s not our aim. Refuse accumulates very quickly here. This is our contribution towards ensuring that our town remains clean,” he said.

Mnyani, 37, lives in a family of five who depend on his grandmother’s old age grant. He has been looking for a job for the past eight years. He said his last job was as a gardener.

“It is everyone’s dream to have a permanent job but there are no opportunities coming up,” he said.

He said it was the responsibility of everyone to keep the town clean. “We can’t wait for authorities to come and clean up. We are passionate about what we’re doing. Being unemployed doesn’t mean you can’t assist the community,” said Mnyani.

Lali Booi, 50, lives with his wife and two children. His wife is a domestic worker and is working two days a week. They all depend on the R1,000 she is paid a month. He said he has been looking for work for years without success. He sometimes gets work during the National Arts Festival unloading trucks for traders, for one or two days. But he has not had a long term or permanent job since he worked for a local company in Makhanda in 2018.

“It is not nice being unemployed. That is why we decided to have something we do to keep ourselves busy even without payment. It would be great if more unemployed people were to join us. Our streets here are filthy and smelly. We have great events like the National Arts Festival which attracts visitors from around the world. We as unemployed people get an opportunity to get piece jobs during those events and is vital that we play a role in making sure that the town is clean and the number of visitors is increasing,” said Lali.

Municipal Manager Moppo Mene said the municipality was clearing bushes and storm water drains “but the programme is not as regular as we would wish”.

Asked why the streets are dirty and about the number of people employed to clean them, he said, “We are cleaning the town and there are people doing that.”

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TOPICS:  Sanitation Unemployment

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