Residents of eMalahleni have mostly given up hope of ever receiving houses or electricity, and since they don’t have money in the first place, this chore is important for their survival.
Coal-making has become a regular chore for many residents in the informal settlement. Although it’s a messy job, the coal has become one of their only sources of energy, and the pieces are used for cooking and for warmth during winter.
Resident Harriet Ludidi, 46, spoke to The Star about her chore. The mother of five has been making her own coal for the last four years by collecting the dust that lines the area and mixing it with clay she gathers from the bank of the Klip River.
Using her hands, she mixes water to the clay and coal mixture to turn it into malleable slop, which she shapes into balls and then leaves out to dry in the sun.
The newspaper reported that she could make as many as 200 coal balls a day, and although she and other residents hated the mess, they had no choice: “Unless we get RDP houses with running water and electricity soon, this coal will be part of our daily lives for as long as we still live here in poverty.”