He pushes a battered wheelbarrow with a squeaking wheel and scans the ground ahead for scrap metal. The intense heat and effort of his labour have taken their toll and a thick film of sweat and grime coats his forehead.
“Yes, I am Julius Malema’s father,” he says with a deep sigh as he answers our question. “He’s my son. But he doesn’t care about me and when he passes me in the street in one of his big cars he looks at me as if I am a stranger.”
It took us months and a 7-hour drive to track down pensioner Samuel Manyapye (71), who was collecting discarded metal to sell at a local scrapyard.
Earlier, we’d gone to his shack at Mohlakaneng, an informal settlement on the far side of Nelson Mandela Drive, which cuts through Seshego township outside Polokwane in Limpopo.
His wife Rahaba (45) told us he’d left a few minutes before to look for scrap metal to sell, to put food on the table that night.
Finding Samuel isn’t easy. We discover there are more than 100 men in the township who collect scrap in wheelbarrows.
After driving around Seshego in fruitless circles in the sweltering heat, we eventually find him.
“You want to talk to me about Julius?” he asks after we exchange greetings.
“I want to reconcile with the boy – he’s my flesh and blood, but he wants nothing to do with me. It hurts. I would die a happy man after sitting down and having a talk with him. I can imagine how he feels and I don’t blame him. I deserted him and his mother when I went to work on a gold mine in Orkney, but he’s still my son.
Read the full article in DRUM, 2 February 2012.