City armed with brooms

2014-07-19 00:00

THE city rolled up their sleeves and came out in force to honour Nelson Mandela yesterday, with a rallying cry to clean up the capital.

Maritzburg residents took to the streets and alleys, parks and illegal dumpsites, and swept, raked up and picked up mountains of rubbish.

Armed with brooms, rakes, spades and bin bags in a variety of colours, teams cheerfully set out across the city to do their bit for the mass Capital Clean-up campaign. Many said afterwards that the city had never looked cleaner, with many hopefuls saying, “Long may it last”.

Deputy Minister for Environmental Affairs Barbara Thompson, who hails from Eastwood, flew in yesterday morning after delivering her budget speech in Parliament the day before to support the campaign. “I’m feeling the vibe,” she said, before going back to her sweeping.

Thompson joined a group of volunteers who cleared an entire illegal dumpsite near Eastwood. She was thrilled by the overwhelming support, the goodwill and sense of fun as people worked together. “How befitting for our icon. I love this spirit,” she said.

Thompson’s sentiments were echoed across the city by the KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu, who did his clean-up stint in Retief Street, and Mayor Chris Ndlela. Ward councillors bonded with their ward members as they cleaned hotspots in their areas.

Sarusha Pakkoo from The Witness shares a birthday with Mandela. She had planned to take the day off but decided to come to work and do her 67 minutes for her city and for Mandela.

Andrew Venter from Wildlands Trust, with a team of more than 300, cleaned a two-kilometre stretch on the Copesville Road.

“It is interesting how this campaign has gained such momentum. I’ve never seen the city so seized with energy and vigour,” said Venter.

In Scottsville, Wendy Woollam cajoled car guards at a shopping centre to join in the campaign. The neighbourhood children who filled up bags earned freshly baked choc-chip cookies and even the beggars in the area were enticed to do their bit in exchange for a hot cup of soup and a blanket.

While many members of the clean-up teams experienced sore backs and aching arms, they all agreed the effort was worth it.

The good vibe however, did not extend to the litterbugs.

Smokers were in trouble for throwing their “stompies” [cigarette butts] everywhere. The label “phuza nation”, seemed to stick, judging by the bags of liquor bottles collected.

Mayor Ndlela thanked the citizens of Pietermaritzburg for coming out in their numbers to honour Mandela. He assured them that the clean-up campaign would be ongoing.

• See more on the Cleaning up the Capital initiative in Monday’s Witness.

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