PLASTICS: Waste or Money

As the fight between plastic waste pollution wages on between governments and big corporate entities which produces plastic products or by products. We take an alternative look at turning plastic waste into a recyclable and commodity which requires less resources and money.

Setlhanka Mothibi

14 MAY 2020

The South African Government has in 2003 put a ban on plastic, by passing a legislation which would see retailers handing out plastic being fined/charged R100 000.00 or face a ten (10) year jail sentence. This was a move then to promote the less use of plastic of any form/shape – this was because at the time South Africa was using an estimated eight (8) billion plastic bags annually.

The United Nations (UN) has on the 23rd of February 2017 during Economic World Ocean Summit held in Bali – launched a global #CleanSeas campaign that would see the elimination of plastic waste. Although the campaign focused mainly on plastic waste which found its way to the ocean and seas. The scourge of plastic has in the past few years found its way to our land, polluting our resources and in the main put the livelihood of our species in grave danger.

Madraai Skosana a resident of Siyabuswa says because he was born and bred in Siyabuswa – a place plagued with land pollution, he has started a culture of ensuring that him and his family do not buy plastic bags when buying groceries, this can be attributed to two things 1. The price of plastic bags can increase the total costs of their groceries depending on the size of their purchase and 2. He wants his kids to grow into environmentally savvy and responsible people in their societies; meaning they consider environmental consequences associated with plastic and its byproducts.

South Africa has always been alive with possibilities, most of its people have always found ways to cohabit and coexist with everything around them.  Meet Sinah Sekhu, a local entrepreneur from a small village of Pankop – located on the north eastern side of Hammanskraal – who makes a living off by making fashion gourmets such as scarf, hats, cushions etc. a craft she learned from an early, self-taught and mastered the trade from her teen days.

She started off as a means to “kill time”, at the time Mrs. Sekhu did not have a clue as to how much people would love her work. “It was only when people started asking if I could make some hats for them – at a price of course – that is when I realized that I can make a living off doing this and earn some few cents” she said. She uses plastic and wool material to make her hats which are affectionately known as Rafina.

Mrs. Sekhu a mother of four, can be found during the week selling bus tickets, depending on her work schedule and family affairs; she sows her hats on weekends and only per orders. Most of her orders come from Limpopo Province through one of her kids who stays and works that side. Her hats range from R70.00 (plastic material) and R120.00 (wool material). “My craftsmanship is very strong and so is my material.

She works very closely with a lady called Ms. Rose Maboela, a resident of Mmametlhake who also works with plastic to make shoes, scarfs etc. Asked whether she plans to teach transfer skills to aspiring sewers, she said “at this particular time, there are no plans to teach and transfer the skills because of my tight schedule”.



With only “90% of an estimated 59 million tons of general waste produced in South Africa in 2011 ended up in landfills, while only 10% was recycled”, this is according to Statistics SA (Stats SA) report titled Environment, in-depth analysis of the General Household Survey 2002–2016 released sometime in 2018.

 The report succinctly outlines the fact that South Africa’s solid waste is not being recycled enough and also that dumping sites are growing at an alarming rate.

 The work being done by Mme Sekhu and her partner, is something commendable and deserves exposure and support as this not only reduces land pollution but also forms a part of their source of income. It is our wish as The Village Mag that she could find support and funding to start a company/organization where she can do this on a full time basis. Should anybody wish to contact her, she can be reached on 083 864 6211.