As communities in KwaZulu-Natal take stock in the aftermath of ravaging floods in the province, the spotlight has also been turned on the waste that has washed up along Durban’s beaches.
People who witnessed the debris took photos and shared them on social media with many captions reading along the lines of "this is what will happen if we do not protect our environment".
At Durban’s harbour and beaches alike, tons of plastic are being washed into the sea. Facebook user Ash Erasmus posted pictures on her profile on Tuesday, captioned: "If ever you needed a reminder of just how badly we've treated the environment."
Many people commented on the post with sentiments of "shock", "sadness" and "disgust" at the state of the environment.
Their sentiments reverberated on Twitter with many users sharing her views.
Twitter user Sakhile Mngadi tweeted: "As we come to terms with the devastation caused by the #DurbanFloods & what has been confirmed to be the loss of 32 lives, I'm left disturbed at the pollution from illegal dump sites & irresponsible behavior that was washed away by the storm and landed in the #DurbanHarbour."
"THERE IS NO BEACH and won’t be for weeks..." tweeted Neal Collins.
Environmentalist groups, Green Peace and the Bremen-Durban Marine Environmental Education Network also weighed in on the conversation, urging people to #BreakFreeFromPlastic and to take notice of where and how people dispose of their plastic waste.
On Wednesday morning, Erasmus then posted a picture of people cleaning up the debris by Durban harbour.
She commented: "Today [Wednesday], most of the plastic is gone … of the 4 000 [people who shared her post] someone with an ability to collect all of that junk must have seen the post. Someone who could have turned awareness into action."
At least 51 people have been confirmed dead following heavy rains and flooding in the province. Others have been left injured and displaced.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited affected areas that were ravaged by floods in the KwaZulu-Natal area on Wednesday, conveying condolences to those who lost loved ones while announcing that relief funds would be allocated.