Thomas, on Joe Slovo Street in Durban, December 2011

I met Thomas late one night in Durban in December 2011, while I was attending COP 17. The usually bustling streets had emptied, and he was stacking used fruit cartons on the corner of Joe Slovo Street. He gets 50 cents a kilo for the cardboard and sometimes manages to earn R40 ($6) a night. Sometimes he can afford shelter overnight in a nearby block of flats, but often sleeps on the street on his cardboard. He’s from Tanzania, where his wife and family are, got to South Africa by stowing away on a ship, did it in 2001, 2003 and 2004. He’s been to Tunisia, Singapore and Indonesia – and been sent back to Tanzania from all of them. How does he find South Africa? ‘South Africa, ah… South Africa…’ His shoulders slump. ‘Maybe I should go to Brazil.’

About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
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