Howick Falls washing lines draw concern

2015-05-27 06:00
PHOTO: supplied

Howick Fall’s washing line.

PHOTO: supplied Howick Fall’s washing line.

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A LETTER to the editor, posted on the Maritzburg Fever Facebook page recently, sparked a long conversation about the public thoughts on women from the informal settlement in Howick washing their clothes in the Howick Falls.

The letter, sent by Joan Hawthorn-Thwaite in Cramond, expressed her disgust and embarrassment at the sight of washing hanging on a fence and women washing their clothes in the river in full view of visitors to Howick Falls.

“The Howick Falls is a tourist attraction for people from all over the world, and heaven only knows what they think of this. This should be stopped all together. Whoever is responsible for this area, must surely look into this matter, and bring it to a halt. As a South African, I am terribly embarrassed to have our country so badly spoken of, concerning this, hoping something will be done,” she said in her letter.

Her letter was posted onto the Maritzburg Fever Facebook page and received a substantial amount of attention from the public all of whom thought the sight was “authentically South African” and most empathising with the women who have to walk the distance from their homes to wash their clothes in the river.

“I wonder how far those ladies had to walk with their washing. I’m sure tourists were disgusted, but for a different reason. They probably wondered how these people could be so neglected that they don’t even have running water in their villages and homes. I really hope they have clean drinking water at least,” commented Helen Mac Donald.

“Even if tourists see that, the poverty and the condition people are living in is inevitable and in actuality the whole world knows we are a Third World country so if they come to this country it’s no surprise they would see that,” commented Muhammad Zak Jeewa.

Others said tourists would enjoy seeing this and may find this an interesting view.

“It’s the reality of the country. My kids will experience this view when we take them there later in the year. They will be curious and excited, not disgusted. Seeing a true culture of a country is far better than keeping it hidden,” commented Vernadene Huson.

Marianne Jacobsz - “I visited Howick Falls last year and loved seeing this. To me it formed part of the tourist attraction. This is Africa where people are warm and welcoming and wash their clothes in a river. I think it’s a beautiful image.”

Penny Rees from the Dusi Umgeni Conservation Trust addressed the issues from the environmental aspect.

“The detergents they are using are causing little to no damage to the environment. People should be more concerned about the chemicals and industrial effluent that is being pumped into the river on a daily basis.”

She said that people who wash their clothes there are doing so because they do not have a sufficient water supply in the informal settlement where they live and the only access they have to water is to walk to the falls

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