Cape Town – On street corners across Cape Town, men and women wait for work, often spending the whole day there without luck. Some have been coming to these spots for years. The luckier manage to get work for one or two days a week.
In the city centre, from the corner of Buitengracht and Strand streets towards Rose Lane, men begin gathering around 07:00. By 09:00 there are about 30 men waiting and watching as the cars pass by.
Every time an empty bakkie pulls up, the men sprint to it.
A few minutes later the bakkie pulls away with at most a couple of men in the back, on their way to work as tilers, painters, bricklayers or general labourers.
The rest of the men trudge back to their spots to wait for the next bakkie.
“We are too many here [to all get work],” said one.
Vusi Gefe, 37, has been coming to this spot to look for work since he was 30. He travels here every day from Khayelitsha.
Sometimes, I don’t get a job and have to go back to Khayelitsha with nothing,” he said. The last time he got work was more than a week ago.
Vusi Gefe says that if he doesn’t get a job he is forced go back to Khayelitsha with nothing.
Seven years ago Gefe lost his job as a cleaner. He now specialises in tiling but mostly gets work as a general labourer.
His girlfriend works in a restaurant and she supports him and their 19-month-old son when he doesn’t have work.
“When I’m tiling I charge R250 to R350 a day, but when I’m working in general work they pay me R150 to R180,” said Gefe.
“I hope one day I will get a permanent job because I don’t want to stand here the whole day,” he said. “I have to support the kid; I have to buy clothes and food … So if I don’t find a job, I will be frustrated.”
Kevin Dalmain waits down the road where it is less busy, looking slightly out of place in his smart shirt.