Desperation, fear and anger as economic noose tightens

13 October 2011 - 02:04 By Amukelani Chauke, Nashira Davids, Mckeed Kotlolo and Khulekani Mazibuko
Navi Kathrada, 51, second from left, seen here with her daughters, from left, Veruschka Padayachee, 26, Tia Latchman, 29, and Yikita Padayachee, 24, says that at her age she doesn't stand a chance of getting another job.
Navi Kathrada, 51, second from left, seen here with her daughters, from left, Veruschka Padayachee, 26, Tia Latchman, 29, and Yikita Padayachee, 24, says that at her age she doesn't stand a chance of getting another job.
Image: ALON SKUY

8 million people are unemployed in South Africa here are the stories of 19

  • Israar Roman, 19 from Hanover Park

Israar Roman, 19, matriculated from Rylands High School last year, hoping to become a photographer.

“Because it is so expensive to study, I thought I would work for a year and save up for my studies. Unfortunately I cannot find a job,” he said.

Roman, the eldest of four children, has applied for for “absolutely everything”.

“And I am willing to do anything — except construction work which is a bit hectic.”

Some day he hopes to open his on sports photography firm. For now, he says, he keeps his mom company at home in Hanover Park and does part-time jobs when he can find it.

“It is very depressing for me but luckily my family is supporting me by trying to remain positive.”  — Nashira Davids

  • Tim Johnson - 49, from Sea Point

Tim Johnson, 49, found himself high up on the corporate ladder — he was the regional sales manager for Nestle and Tiger Brands.

Then he took up the position of manager at a company which imported natural stone from around the world. Things went well for the father of two. That was until he was retrenched from the company.

Three years down the line Johnson — who has a national diploma in project management and is studying internet development on a part time basis — is still sending out CVs. 

“In the beginning if was very difficult for me. I couldn’t go out, I just felt so guilty. My wife Mandy had to force me to get out of the house even if it was just to go surfing. I have children from my first marriage and I cannot pay maintenance which is a heavy burden to carry.”

He said he had friends who found themselves in the same position. One had to resort to living with his father in an old age home for a while.

Instead of slipping deeper into depression, he saw a life coach who helped him tremendously. He managed to get his life back on track thanks to his loving and supportive wife who he describes as his pillar of strength.

Tim now volunteers at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town instead of moping at home in Sea Point.

“I go in almost every day. It keeps me poaitive and sane and hopefully, who knows they may offer me a position if something comes up. It is absolutely wonderful. You do things that you would never have done. And it is a really great bunch of people who work there .”

Because he knows of so many highly qualified men who had lost their jobs, he is planning to start a support group for men in Cape Town.  — Nashira Davids

  • Judy van den Heever, 27 from Kleinvlei

Judy van den Heever, 27, is a single mother of a six-year-old old. She lives with her mother and father in Kleinvlei and has been battling to find a job for six months.

Van den Heever worked as a sales representative for a soft drinks company.

“At first I was paid a basic salary and commission. Later I was only paid a commission for every sale. Unfortunately that money barely covered my travelling expenses. I had no choice but to resign and find something else,” said Van den Heever.

Since then she has applied just about everywhere — from the navy to the City of Cape Town.

“It is incredibly difficult for me. I want to provide adequately for my son,” she said.

Her dream is to study public administration part time once she finds employment.  — Nashira Davids

  • Suraya Williams, 33

After matriculating, Suraya Williams, 33, could not enroll at a tertiary institution to study — she had to work to support her single mother who had to stop working to look after her disabled brother. 

But she never gave up on her dreams of obtaining some sort of tertiary qualification. In January this year she thought her dream would finally come true.

She resigned from the hospital cleaning company she worked for and enrolled to study home-based care.

“I wanted a better life and future for my daughter and my son,” said Williams who lives in Scottsdene.

However the institution — which she found in a local Cape Town newspaper — turned out to be a “fly-by-night” college.

She struggled for months to find a job. That was until she found another company offering “business, banking and financial management” courses. The company also promised to find her a job.

She passed the course with flying colours but shortly after receiving her certificate the company disappeared into thin air.

“I am disappointed and very depressed. I’ve used all my savings and it is difficult for my husband who now has to work alone for the family,” she said.

However the feisty housewife vowed not to give up searching for a job.

“I am hard working and will do whatever it takes. But I doubt whether I will try to study again.”  — Nashira Davids

  • Hannie Davids, 55

This month, at the age of 55, building estimator Hannie Davids was retrenched from a roofing company he had been with for more than 16 years.

“I found myself in the same situation in 1992 when I was retrenched,” said the grandfather of four.

Instead of hiding in a corner overcome with self pity he has contacted 50 companies and individuals in the building industry enquiring about vacancies and offering his expertise.

“Nine companies have asked to see my CV but none of them have vacancies. I am hopeful nevertheless,” said Davids who lives in Northpine.

And should he be unsuccessful at these companies, he has devised a Plan B — starting his own company.

“I have the experience and the drive,” he said.  — Nashira Davids

  • Siyabonga Ndebele, 19

Siyabonga Ndebele, 19, has been “sitting at home” since he matriculated last year.

The Ntuzuma youth could not study further due to lack of funds and was forced to job hunt immediately after receiving his results.

“I am still searching. Although I have submitted job applications to many companies, I rarely get any feedback,” he said.

Ndebele relies on his mother’s salary to feed and house him.

“I am still living at home but I need to find a job because it is tough on my mother but also tough on me because I need to know that I can provide for myself and my family,” he said.

Ndebele said all he can do is “just wait” for a job.

“I have done all I could do to find a job. I even went for security training so I could become a guard but there aren’t any jobs out there and people like me just have to be patient. Now all I do is sit and watch television while I wait for the phone to ring. Hopefully someday it will bring good news”.  — Khulekani Mazibuko

  • Philisiwe Ndebele is Siyabonga’s older sister and has been unemployed for five years.

The 30-year-old mother of one was a domestic worker and has been struggling to find a stable job.

“It’s putting strain on me because I can’t buy my three-year-old daughter all the things she wants. Anything will do. I just want any job. It’s been so long since I have earned money of my own. It’s been so long since I even spent money of my own,” she said.

She said finding a job was difficult because she did not have a university qualification.

“But people also don’t want permanent domestic workers because they too are struggling. I also tried to get into the security sector but I am still waiting for someone to make me a happy woman by giving me a job,” she said. — Khulekani Mazibuko

  • Thabisile Mbongwa, 28

Thabisile Mbongwa, 28, could not complete her office, management and technology diploma due to financial constraints in 2004. Since then the Pinetown woman has had various jobs but none has led to permanent employment.

“I was a waitress, a reception, a court filing clerk and many other things but now I back to square one and am living with my parents again,” she said.

Since March this year Mbongwa has bought local newspapers daily to search for a job.

“I apply to a lot of jobs but I believe that so many people out there are in the same position as me so we are all applying for the same job and only one of us can get that job and unfortunately that one has not yet been me,” she said.

She said her family has been supportive and have also tried to find her a job.

“My mum asks around for me but I just can’t get a permanent job. Most jobs are on a contract basis and do not go beyond three months,” she said. — Khulekani Mazibuko

  • Barileng Ngobeni, 28

Armed with a diploma in office administration, wheelchair-bound Barileng Ngobeni, 28, from Atteridgeville, Pretoria  is battling to find a job.

“I started job hunting after matriculating in 2003 and when I could not find any, I returned to school and obtained a diploma in office administration in 2007. I applied to government departments and private companies without any success.

“I also applied through agencies and I attended interviews mostly in the Johannesburg area without success.

“I believe some of the companies turned me down because they think that travelling between Pretoria and Johannesburg would be difficult for me since I am wheelchair-bound,” he said.

Barileng, who was involved in a car accident in 2001 while in Grade 11 and was paralysed from waist down, said to some company, “employing a wheelchair-bound would cost them money because they will have to introduce some changes, including installing ramps.”

“I cannot describe the frustration of being unemployed. It is a very difficult life to lead by someone with qualifications and also willing to work.”

His dream was to work in the admin section of the police department. “I would love to do office admin at a police station, capturing their daily data. It would also be easy for me since I would be doing the same job daily.” — Mckeed Kotlolo

  • Dimakatso Mokwana, 35

Dimakatso Mokwana, 35, dreamt of becoming a beautician, but trained as a security guard instead, hoping a job would come easier.

The single mother of two children— aged nine and four  — says she has lost count of the number of CVs she has sent out. 

“I have just submitted another CV at a security firm, not far from here, and I hope it would not be another regret. It is frustrating but I am not giving up. I will continue seeking permanent employment until I find one,” says Mokwana, who lives in Danville in Pretoria West.

She said companies received thousands of applications for any vacancies advertised. 

She always carry copies of her CV in her handbag wherever she goes “be it to parties or funerals, hoping that I may come across someone  willing to help”.

Mokwana, who is currently doing casual work at a local fruit and vegetable market, said: “I earn enough to pay my water and electricity bills, school fees for my nine year old child and creche fees for my four-year-old. The rest goes to transport.”  —  McKeed Kotlolo

  • Jacob van Rooyen

“The bank is about to repossess my house and some doctor wants to sue me for unpaid medical bills,” says Jacob van Rooyen, 44, of Springs in Ekurhuleni.

Van Rooyen worked for the then Grootvlei Mine (later taken over by Aurora) for 20 years as a supervisor before he and others were told in April to stay home and wait for their salaries.

They have not heard from Aurora since then. Before the takeover, he earned up to R20000 a month with bonuses “Now I can’t afford to pay my water and electricity bills, pay my bond or buy food.

“A dentist has threatened to sue me if a do not settle the account which the medical aid failed to pay because the employer deducted money but did not forward it to the medical aid. He sent me letters threatening to take me to court.

“As if that was not enough, the bank has given me up to next week to come up with an amount I cannot afford or else I lose my house. I have been paying for it without any problems for about 20 years and now they want the outstanding R45000.

“How am I supposed to come up with such an amount when I am unemployed,” asks Van Rooyen.

“Due to scarcity of permanent jobs, I am doing piece jobs for neighbours and friends just to put a plate of food on the table.” —   McKeed Kotlolo

  • Thabang Mafata, 29, a senior technician who lives in Soweto, was retrenched by telecommunications company Telkom on September 12.

"They held a board meeting . They asked high-earning managers to forfeit their bonuses and other awards, and asked us if we could volunteer to work for free on weekends to save our jobs," he said.

Mafata said terms could not be agreed on with Telkom, and together with about eight other technicians, his contract was terminated after three years.

He worries about paying the rent and providing for his four-year-old son. - Amukelani Chauke

  • Tshepo Marutha, 26, a father of one who lives in Cosmo City, north of Johannesburg, lost his job at the SA Revenue Service.

Marutha, who was employed by Sars in 2008, said his retrenchment was unexpected and that no reason was provided.

"I have been trying to apply for a job but I am not getting anything. I am very worried because I have to provide for my family and also pay for my bond," he said.

Marutha, who holds a degree in accounting, said the perception that the government was employing people was inaccurate. - Amukelani Chauke

  • Navi Kathrada, 51, a mother of three who lives in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, has considered taking her life after having been retrenched by two property companies in the last five years.

Kathrada worked for a company contracted to the City of Johannesburg to establish improvement districts in different regions.

After eight years of service, the company retrenched her in 2010.

She took up a position with a student property company in Johannesburg last year, but lost her job in April, when the company was restructured.

"At my age, I don't stand a chance of getting a job. "The financial situation is bad, I had to go in for debt review."

Kathrada is now on a three-month contract and has to maintain a household, support her three daughters, Yikita Padayachee, 24, who only recently got a job, Veruschka Padayachee, 26, who is pregnant and considering joining the navy after giving birth, and Tia Latchman, 29, who, after a recent retrenchment, has just started a new job. - Amukelani Chauke

  • Tim Johnson, 49, a former regional sales manager for Nestle and Tiger Brands, was climbing the corporate ladder. Things went well for the father of two - and then he was retrenched.

Three years down the line Johnson - who has a national diploma in project management and is studying internet development part time - is still sending out CVs.

"In the beginning it was very difficult for me. I couldn't go out, I just felt so guilty.

"My wife Mandy had to force me to get out of the house even if it was just to go surfing. I have children from my first marriage and I cannot pay maintenance which is a heavy burden to carry."

Instead of slipping deeper into depression, he consulted a life coach and managed to get his life back on track thanks to his supportive wife.

Johnson now volunteers at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town instead of moping at home in Sea Point. - Nashira Davids

  • Hannie Davids, a 55-year-old building estimator, was retrenched this month by the roofing company in whose employ he had been for more than 16 years.

"I found myself in the same situation in 1992," said the grandfather of four.

He has contacted 50 companies and individuals in the building industry offering his skills.

"Nine companies have asked to see my CV but none of them have vacancies. I am hopeful nevertheless," said Davids who lives in Northpine, Cape Town. - Nashira Davids

  • Barileng Ngobeni, a wheelchair-bound office administrator from Atteridgeville, Pretoria is battling to find a job.

"I started job hunting after matriculating in 2003 and when I could not find any, I returned to school and obtained a diploma in office administration in 2007.

"I applied to government departments and private companies without success.

"I believe some of the companies turned me down because they think that travelling between Pretoria and Johannesburg would be difficult for me since I am wheelchair-bound," he said.

Ngobeni, who was paralysed from the waist down in a car accident in 2001 while in Grade 11, said companies were reluctant to offer him a job because "employing a wheelchair-bound person would cost them money because they will have to introduce some changes, including installing ramps." - Mckeed Kotlolo

  • Jacob van Rooyen, 44, of Springs in Ekurhuleni said: "The bank is about to repossess my house and some doctor wants to sue me for unpaid medical bills."

Van Rooyen worked for Grootvlei Mine (later taken over by Aurora) for 20 years as a supervisor before he and others were told in April to stay home and wait for their salaries.

They have not heard from Aurora since. Before the takeover, he earned up to R20000 a month with bonuses. "Now I can't afford to pay my water and electricity bills, pay my bond or buy food.

"The bank has given me up to next week to come up with an amount I cannot afford or else I lose my house. I have been paying for it without any problems for about 20 years and now they want the outstanding R45000.

"I am doing piece jobs for neighbours and friends just to put a plate of food on the table." - McKeed Kotlolo

  • Thabisile Mbongwa, 28, ran out of the money needed to complete her office, management and technology diploma in 2004.

Since then the Pinetown resident has had various casual jobs - none of which have led to permanent employment.

"I was a waitress, a receptionist, a court filing clerk and many other things - but now I am back to square one and am living with my parents again," she said.

Since March, Mbongwa has bought local newspapers daily to search for a job. - Khulekani Mazibuko

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