The accompanying photo was taken on the grass embankment at Wilson’s Wharf Durban looking east towards the Royal Natal Yacht Club over the sand bank, which gets exposed at low tide. At low tide, and especially at sunrise, the exposed sand bank becomes a playground for pigeons and people; whether it be fishermen looking for cracker shrimps, fishing off the edge of the bank into the deep channel or young children running after crabs who are scurrying along the muddy surface. At high tide it is a known fact two most fishermen who have fished this area that Grunter and Stumpnose venture onto the covered sandbank to dig in the mud for cracker shrimp. Shoals of Mullet also swim lazily around away from the deep channel’s seeking some measure of safety. As a young lad, this area of Durban Bay was our playground. If we were not fishing or getting up to some other naughty tricks, then we were digging out clay from some of the banks and placing blobs on sticks to then launch missiles at each other.
It was in the latter post that I briefly introduced a gentleman who I met at the edge of the harbour. Let us call the gentleman “Bheki”.
To better acquaint myself with Bheki’s apparent plight, I read the Telegraph.
Aislinn Laing of Johannesburg reported as follows: “Eighteen years after the end of apartheid, South Africa is now judged to be one of the most unequal societies in the world and its 19 million children bear the brunt of the disconnect.
The Unicef report found that 1.4 million children live in homes that rely on often dirty streams for drinking water, 1.5 million have no flushing lavatories and 1.7 million live in shacks, with no proper bedding, cooking or washing facilities.
Four in 10 live in homes where no one is employed and, in cases of dire poverty, the figure rises to seven in 10.
A total of 330,000 children – and five million adults – are currently infected with HIV, and 40 per cent die from the pandemic annually.
Child support grants, introduced in 1997, now reach 10.3 million children but another one million who are eligible do not yet receive them”.
The Daily News reported as follows: “Government failing the unemployed: ANCYL (ANC Youth Leauge) – The ANC Youth League has responded to the latest unemployment figures with a double-barreled blast at the government for its apparent failure to demonstrate the “commitment” and “clear will” required to deal decisively with the jobless plight of young South Africans.
Stats SA’s latest Labour Force Survey, released on Tuesday, indicated that formal unemployment rose to more than 25 percent in the first quarter of 2012, up from 23,9 percent in December. And National Treasury figures put youth unemployment – 18 to 30 year-olds – at about 42 percent, compared to 17 percent for those older than 30”.
Bheki walked past me and I asked him if he was interested in participating in my amateur paid photo shoot. He hesitantly agreed; I suspect being not sure of my actual intentions.
From thereon things relaxed a helluva lot and it was not long before he asked me for a lift a few kilometres down the road with his collection of scrap metal (in the barrel / white sack seen in the photos below).
Sensing an opportunity (both of us in fact), Bheki asked if I would allow him to load additional scrap metal in my vehicle on the way to where I offered to drop him off.
I then offered to drop him off at a scrap metal dealer as it was a diversion of an additional few hundred metres and I would get to see an area of Durban I had not seen in a while – it was a win-win situation. Read more about the scrap metal industry here.
Bheki thoroughly enjoyed the ride and was quick to point out, when I dropped him off, that I should leave immediately as the area was not safe.
I really enjoyed meeting Bheki on the edge of Durban Harbour.