Cape Town goes after rats

2013-03-20 14:30
The photo on Helen Zille's toe, taken after she was bitten by a rat. (Twitter: Helen Zille)

The photo on Helen Zille's toe, taken after she was bitten by a rat. (Twitter: Helen Zille)

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Johannesburg - The City of Cape Town was taking steps to go after the municipality's rat population, the City said on Wednesday.

"As with all large cities throughout the world with an ever increasing population, the problem of rat infestation in Cape Town is a reality, but steps are being taken by the City to curb the problem," said health spokesperson Lungiswa James in a statement.

"The primary cause of rat infestation is the prevalence of food waste."

James said in areas with high rat populations, it had been found that some residents dumped their rubbish next to collection bins rather than inside them, or left their rubbish out for days before collection day.

The city had appointed waste contractors to collect waste in both formal and informal areas, provided rodent-proof dumping containers, and performed on-going community and school education on waste management.

"Baiting has been increased over the last few years, particularly in the breeding seasons of spring and autumn," said James.

The municipality had budgeted R530 843 for rat poisons, with this amount excluding salaries and vehicle costs for teams doing the block baiting.

Special pest control partnerships had been undertaken in areas well known to be affected by rodents and a complaints-based pest control service was provided to previously disadvantaged communities.

Business premises such as hotels, restaurants and food outlets were routinely visited by environmental health practitioners and where rodent control was found to be inadequate, the business owner is asked to fix the situation.

Public partnership

The City had also engaged in a public-private partnership project within the CBD to reduce the rodent population.

"We appeal to residents to help us curb the rat problem by keeping their area clean of all solid waste, and by disposing of waste correctly," James said.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille took to social networking site Twitter to announce that she had been bitten by a rat, The Star reported.

Zille tweeted her 251 000 followers around 06:00 on Tuesday: The weirdest thing just happened. I went to fetch the newspapers at the gate when a rat darted out, and bit me on my toe!

This was retweeted 268 times.

Her followers on Twitter were quick to chime in with advice and suggestions that included go to the doctor, improve security at her Leeuwenhof home, and post a photo.

Later Zille posted: I have just looked up on Google. It says no one in the US has ever got rabies from a small rodent. But I will ask my doctor. tks for advice.

Soon afterwards she uploaded a photograph of her toe.

Her spokesperson Zak Mbhele tweeted: I know the City Bowl rats are mutant freaks of nature, but if they're starting to take nibbles out of people, we're in trouble...

- SAPA
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