|Solly Radali, a familiar sight on Oxford Road with his trolley decorated with soft toys and tin-can aerials, tells Lucille Davie why he loves Jo'burg.|
Solly Radali uses his decorated trolley as his home. From his pavement spot on the corner of Ettrick and Oxford roads in Johannesburg he waves and chats to his many friends.
"People give me food and clothes when they stop at the robot," he says. Local residents give him hot tea and a company in Parktown allows him to sleep at their offices every night. When it rains, he moves up half a block and stands under the N1 for shelter.
Solly takes the same pride in his trolley that other people take in our homes. The front of the trolley is decorated with a dozen soft toys - including a pink Kewpie doll, a grey McDonald's elephant, and a plastic green-caped Aladdin figure - framed in a circle of pink fluff. The sides and top of the trolley are covered in grey sacks neatly tied down. The side sacks contain flattened cans, the top sack his clothes and mug. The sack under the handles contains his food.
Two wires stick out from the top of the trolley like aerials with cans perched at the end of them.
"I leave my trolley here and walk around the streets, collecting cans and pieces of iron. I sell them in Cleveland - you can get R5 a kilo for them. I usually get R25 for my load."
Solly sits on a piece of sponge with his trolley at the intersection from 7.30am to 6pm. Under his grey anorak he wears a dark blue overall. He wears a navy blue wool beanie and tackies. He has a radio playing music.
He was born on a farm outside Louis Trichardt and moved to Johannesburg in 1956. "Johannesburg was a small place in those days," he says. He used to work as a gardener and do "jobs in the house". Work in his home town didn't pay much: "You could get three pounds at home, but jobs in Johannesburg paid much more."
Solly never went to school, met his wife in Louis Trichardt and has eight children. When he goes home, he has a plan. "I leave my trolley in a nearby house."
For a guy who collects cans for a livelihood and has a trolley for a home, he is pretty organised. He is also well-connected: "A lot of people know me," he says with a smile.