Text and pictures

Sharon Seretlo

Aletta Monoko lives with her family in a two-room RDP house in Orange Farm. She shares the house with her son Lerothodi, 23, and her two grandchildren Buhle Monoko and Keneuwe Monoko, both 11.

Monoko has been recycling for 20 years, and has never worked formally in her life.

She collects different kinds of material like paper, cans, bottles and books. She keeps everything in her yard because she doesn’t have land or space where she can work. And she sells small portions each month to scrap-yards and bottle companies.

Monoko has maintained her family with the little money she gets from selling scrap and bottles, but now she says that she has decided to stop, as Lerothodi is taking the drug nyaope, and has begun to steal from her. He has already stolen the money that Monoko had been saving to buy a piece of land on which she could develop her business. She says she kept her money in the house because she doesn’t like taking it to the bank. Now she’s lost everything.

Lerothodi is also taking some of the material she has outside her house to sell to feed his habit. Monoko says, sadly, that she does not know what to do, as she’s never done anything else in her life but recycle.