Pig innards the only meat they can afford
The Free State township of Rammulotsi has been cursed with abject poverty, so say the residents.
For years, life in the small township has been an uphill battle for survival for the majority of its dwellers.
Faced with an age-old critical housing shortage, the high unemployment rate makes life even more unbearable.
Residents complain that only a few people are permanently employed at the adjoining town of Viljoenskroon, or in the neighbouring Orkney mining town in North West. The rest, residents say, depend on piece jobs and menial work to keep the wolves at bay.
This week, Sowetan returned to Rammulotsi, a few years after extensively reporting on scavenging by many of the township's populace.
Only this Tuesday, many of the residents, including children, were found still scavenging in the township's rubbish dump.
The scavengers say they look for anything, including discarded food, to survive. Robert Sedi, 65, says he collects anything that can be sold in order to feed his family. Sedi said: "I collect bottles, cans, iron and steel and sell them at scrapyards." He says he makes between R10 and R20 a day.
But five boys in the site have a different plight from Sedi's and his crew.
The boys say they quit school because of poverty and spend their days collecting rubbish. The five boys are brothers Cornelius, 16, and Papa Ntanjane, 13, Mohau Peterson, 15, Oupanyana Pheleu, 13, and Lebohang Andries, 15.
Their day begin at 6am and end at 7pm every day, and are not daunted by any kind of weather. Like vultures, the teenagers wait for refuse trucks as they arrive to dump rubbish on the site.
Andries, the most vocal in the group, says they hate what they do but are forced by the adverse circumstances.
Andries said: "My parents are unemployed and struggling. They could not look after me, so I decided to fend for myself."
All of them quit school at primary school level.
Cornelius said: "Our lives are stuck in this dump while our peers are at school."
Wearing tattered clothes, the boys say they also find old clothing at the dump. "I don't even have a pair of shoes," said the barefooted Andries.
On the western side of the township, residents queue outside an abattoir, waiting to buy pig innards.
They say they have no option but to survive on what many people in the country would not eat.
Betta Mosibedi, 59, says intestines is the only meat she can afford in order to feed her family of four.
Mosibedi said: "I am here every day at 6am waiting with my bucket."