Public dumping dept?

2011-01-03 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG couple preparing for their wedding on New Year’s Eve at the Mpushini Valley Conservancy in Ashburton spent the days leading to their nuptials removing piles of stinking waste allegedly dumped near the wedding venue by the local offices of the Public Works Department.

Nick May, his bride Nicole and their neighbours spent Boxing Day moving an estimated 60 broken bags of rubbish.

Documents in the garbage bore the address of the local Public Works Department offices, 191 Prince Alfred Street. The rubbish had ben dumped at the Mpushini River at the Lower Mphushini Valley Conservancy.

The rubbish bags were filled with hair extensions, female condoms, constipation cream, receipts for delivered furniture, a valid credit card, linoleum offcuts, left-over cabbage, mielie pap and maggots.

Ironically, a booklet titled “Public Works Code of Conduct” was also found in the rubbish.

Community member Pandora Long said they spent their Boxing Day cleaning up the mess.

“Luckily we found several papers, delivery notes, medicines, credit card applications etc. all belonging to [an employee of the department] among this stench.”

The name of the employee is known to The Witness.

Long said that through the notes they were able to track down the woman and demanded that she remove the refuse.

“When she was contacted about the rubbish, she did not deny that the rubbish was hers, but said it was the contractors who had dumped it at the conservancy.”

Long said they issued an ultimatum that the rubbish be removed today or the conservancy would proceed with prosecution.

However, the woman told them that the department was closed and the rubbish would be collected the following day.

Long said that a government vehicle removed some of the rubbish on Wednesday, but had yet to collect the rest of the rubbish.

She said they were concerned that the rubbish was being washed down the river, polluting the water that is allegedly the only source of drinking water for communities and animals.

“A huge thunderstorm washes all [the employee’s] rubbish into the Mpushini River, slowly spreading its foul contents downstream.”

May said the rubbish was dumped just 300 metres from the wedding venue.

He said he and Nicole were not happy to spend the days preceding their wedding cleaning up someone else’s rubbish.

“When we contacted her, they [Public Works employees] came down and took one bakkie-load of rubbish and never returned, whereas they needed at least six bakkie-loads to move all the rubbish.

“I had to move all the rubbish myself and there are still about 30 bags of rubbish that need to be picked up.”

The rubbish had not yet been collected by yesterday.

May said it was disturbing that government employees could act in this way.

The employee said that although she has been made aware of the problem with the rubbish, the rubbish is not hers: it is refuse from the Public Works Department.

“All I did was throw my discarded envelopes on to the rubbish at the office, and when it was dumped the people found my name and called me, but I do not know anything about the rubbish itself. The rubbish had been piling up at the office and the building manager ordered that the department remove the rubbish; it is probably those people who dumped it in the wrong place.”

She said she was concerned about the threat of legal action by the community.

The Public Works Department building manager, Phakamile Ntombela, declined to comment and said an official by the name of Mr Mkhize would comment.

Mkhize denied that the department removed its own rubbish. He laid the blame on the municipality.

“The municipality collects the rubbish all over the city and we do not know where they dump it.”

The municipality was contac­ted for comment, but had not responded at the time of going to press.

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