Claude Ntoko is forced to do piece jobs on weekends to supplement his income.
He is employed as a casual foreign language interpreter in the Johannesburg magistrate's court.
Ntoko, 51, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has lived in South Africa for more than eight years.
He has six children but only lives with three. The others are in the DRC. Ntoko is a qualified court interpreter and came to South Africa to find a job so that he could feed his family.
But life has not been as smooth sailing as he had expected.
Yesterday, Ntoko and about 50 other disgruntled interpreters embarked on a sit-in strike over a pay dispute.
"We have not been paid last month's salaries. Instead, we get empty promises," he said. "We decided to strike because the authorities do not take our problems seriously."
Ntoko said he was earning R170 a day and could not keep up with the rising university fees for his eldest daughter.
"This is the same amount I have been getting for the past eight years. The cost of living is high and I can't afford even basic needs," he said.