Michael de Beer, Camps Bay
I read with interest your concise report “The plight of the homeless” (Atlantic Sun, July 15). It really clears up all the unanswered questions of whom, why and where.
Since late winter months last year, tailing the first lockdown, I met Joseph Shawa at the ECO Depot, Tramway Road, Sea Point. He replaced another worker who was there for quite some time before. I take our ECO already separated to the ECO once and sometimes twice a week.
You know how when you meet someone and they seem to be in the wrong place yet have to be there out of necessity? Well that was my first impression of Joseph, in his blue overalls ready to receive whatever everyone dumps on him with a smile, never failing.
Even down to a question like “do you need the bag(s) back” and replaces them directly into your car. This transaction has never changed from that very first day.
Sure, many possibly just arrive, drop and go being the intention.
I then asked his name at which he was clearly awed that he was even recognised.
During lockdown I had also bought basics (like) baked beans, pilchards and tuna, Cuppa Soup, sliced bread (which can be frozen) biscuits and so on – never more than R8 to R15 per single purchase.
I have literally taken just one alternate item there, one every week, plus an odd item of clothing. I did try to assist with work for his wife, months ago at a reputable agency, but due to lockdown there is naturally a shortage and long waiting list.
If everyone could just do or find any way to improve someone else’s circumstances especially now, no matter how small, it’s an improvement. Here’s hoping Joseph can move on to something more beneficial in the near future.
I asked him to write a small summary – and this here is exactly in his own words. I truly wish his story can be told/published.
“My name is Joseph Shawa. (I) am from Malawi. I was born on 1 April 1988 in a family of 6 children and am the second born.I am married and I have 3 children, 2 girl and a boy. I have been working as a recycler since 2013 until now.”