WATCH | 'Anything will do for me to escape life of joblessness'

Graduates join hundreds of others in queue for 60 security guard posts

Herman Moloi & Antonio Muchave Reporter & Photo Journalist
People queue for employment as security guards in Pretoria.
People queue for employment as security guards in Pretoria.

With a degree in psychology and a diploma in journalism, Tshepo Sibeko of Soshanguve braved the icy cold morning yesterday, standing in a long queue with hundreds of other people desperate to get a job.

The group had responded to an advert for 60 security guard positions advertised by a Pretoria company

The snaking queues outside Prime African Security firm in the CBD are a common site in SA where millions of unemployed people, many of them young and educated, spend years looking for jobs. 

Despite his qualifications, 27-year-old Sibeko said he was tired of unemployment and anything will do at this point because all he wants is a job. 

“The past five years have been very bad. It has been the most challenging because you must make means that you eat and bath every day. I have been pulling through by means of doing odd jobs such as copywriting and video editing. That is how I have managed to put food on the table for the past years,” he said.   

The current unemployment rate in SA is 32.9% and while Sibeko and  many others showed up for the advertised job, Prime African Security – the hiring company – said it only had 60 security guard positions to fill.

Sibeko said his hunger for a permanent job had led him to stop being picky about jobs despite his qualifications.

“I am no longer interested in which job it is. The only thing I want is to get job and make sure that I am able to provide food for myself," he said.  

For Mike Tsotetsi, a father of three, being unemployed and having to depend on his domestic worker wife after over 20-years of being unemployed, had left him emasculated.

The 53-year-old man, who had to borrow money from friends to travel to town and stand on the long queue with people young enough to be his children, said he was now suffering from low self-esteem.

"This thing hurts me because my kids and I depend on one breadwinner, my wife and it is bad because as a man I should be the one providing not the other way around. My wife earns about R4000 per month and then we get grants for my two children aged 13 and 6," he said.

He said he was now ashamed to ask for money from his wife.

“I have borrowed the taxi fare from a friend because I didn't want to bother my wife," he said.

Mike Tsotetsi
Mike Tsotetsi

A psychologist from Randburg, who asked to remain anonymous, said unemployment affects self-esteem because everyone likes to provide for those they care about. When they can't,  that leads to low self-esteem and low self-motivation.

 “When one is unemployed, they begin to compare themselves with their peers and they feel like they are falling behind which affects them mentally. The best way to deal with unemployment mentally is by taking voluntarily jobs to improve your skills. To deal with this stress, you need to be strong to contain the disappointment and stress levels that come with being unemployed,” he said.

Mother of three Pretty Molefe left her house at 5am when it was still very dark to also queue for the security job using her social grant money for transport. By the time she arrived in town at 6am, there queue was already long.

“I have been looking for a security post but now I am willing to take a job of being a cleaner, cashier or admin clerk as long I can provide for my kids since I am a single mother,” she said. 

Dr Peter Baur, an associate professor at the School of Economics at the University of Johannesburg, said one of the barriers to job creation in SA which subsequently led to joblessness was the high interest rate which was slowing down the economy.

"The cost of borrowing money to invest in the economy is very high, which leads to lower levels of capital accumulation and business investment. Low levels of economic growth are a persistent problem,” he said.

According to Bauer, the government needs to expand the Expanded Public Works Programme and make them permanent to address unemployment.

“Expanded Public Works Programme is a very good idea with market-related wages to induce both labour market participation and increase expenditure by households which would have a knock-on effect toward stimulating growth. Initiatives geared towards fostering better employment opportunities for women and youth would go a long way."

He said the economic growth rate in the country is lower than the population rate .

“Our annual GDP growth rate is currently at 0.5%. When the economic growth rate is lower than the population growth rate, overall wealth decreases, leaving less money available for households to spend. Without achieving high levels of economic growth, it will be very difficult to reduce the levels of unemployment in South Africa,” Baur added. 

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