PETER LATEGAN & MEGAN-JOY MAVOSA
HANDS ON: On Wednesday 22 March 2023, World Water Day was celebrated all over the globe. Closer to home, the City of Cape Town (CoCT) included Witsand Primary School in their awareness plans. The very next day, the Witzands Aquifer Nature Reserve Team, based on the outskirts of Atlantis, visited the school. Accompanied by the CoCT’s Law Enforcement Department, they came to share their knowledge and hands-on awareness. The day`s focus was about educating the eager grade six learners about being water-wise, but also about the negative effects of littering and illegal dumping.
Ongoing littering a serious headache!
Illegal dumping is a growing headache for authorities, and the backlog of areas needing attention continues to grow. The City of Cape Town`s Urban Waste Management directorate says education and awareness efforts about how to responsibly dispose of waste, seems to fall on deaf ears as not everyone adheres.
Even applying fines and confiscating vehicles involved in dumping sometimes fails to change behaviour. Recently fines were issued during routine patrols, as well as special operations focusing in several areas. One of the hotspots is the Atlantis Industrial area, including John Dreyer Street adjacent to Witsand informal settlement (pictured left).
The City recently developed a new outreach and enforcement strategy that is gaining momentum. “Many times residents in areas that are buckling under illegal dumping still blame the City for dirty conditions, saying they have been forgotten. However these same people don’t report someone who litters or dumps to the authorities. This project is designed to show that we have not forgotten about communities, through cleansing activities, and at the same time promote reporting illegal dumping. Hopefully this will be more effective in changing attitudes around waste,” said Alderman Grant Twigg, Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Waste Management.
They has launched a 24-hour toll-free number (0800 110 077) to report tip-offs about illegal dumping activity. Those convicted of illegal dumping could be fined up to R5 000, have their vehicle impounded, or face a two-year prison sentence. In addition, for every report that leads to a fine and conviction, the City is offering a reward up to R5 000. To notify the City about dumping that needs to be cleared, anyone can call 0860 103 089. Illegal dumping has been the order of the day on John Dreyer Street for the past few years. Daily, hundreds of motorists and pedestrians travels along this road. There are also several risks emanating from illegal dumping, including health, safety, social and economic issues, but often the ones at the short end of this nauseating offense are not the dumpers. Instead, it is the person that gets sick, the child that plays with broken glass, the animal that runs around dragging a rubbish bag, spreading germs.
Witsand Primary School is on the corner of Chris Hani Road and John Dreyer Street, and is immediately affected by this challenge. Staff and parents at the school said that the dumping has caused the pavements to be occupied and learners need to walk through sand instead. “This caused learners to become a target for accidents while trying to avoid the rubbish. It is totally unacceptable,” they agreed. Patricia Mambozokuni is a local parent and said she is very concerned. “I am not happy with the dumping, because at the end of the day our children will end up infected by various diseases,” she said. Economically it also sends out the wrong message to a potential investor driving through the area, having to decide whether his investment is safe in the hands of a community that has become ‘okay’ with dumping.