Waste picker's death a 'tragedy', says deputy minister Thomson

2018-03-25 18:04
Nswaki Mahlakwane, described as a sweet person, had been picking through rubbish at the New England dumping site since 2015. (GroundUp, Supplied)

Nswaki Mahlakwane, described as a sweet person, had been picking through rubbish at the New England dumping site since 2015. (GroundUp, Supplied)

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Deputy Environmental Affairs Minister Barbara Thomson on Sunday labelled the death of a waste picker, who was killed after being caught in a trash compactor vehicle, as a tragedy.

"I am deeply hurt to learn about Ms [Nswaki] Mahlakwane's tragedy. She had gone to the landfill site to fend for her family, just as she and many of her colleagues do on a daily basis," said Thomson in a statement.

Police are investigating a case of culpable homicide after Mahlakwane, aged 57, died at the New England landfill site in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.

"We are confident that the findings will help in bringing about some closure to the family and colleagues of the deceased," said Thomson.

READ: Waste picker killed after getting caught in trash compactor

Groundup reported that Mahlakwane was accidently knocked over.

Thomson said that the environmental affairs department recognised the economic potential of recycling, "with conservative estimates putting the financial value of the formal South African waste sector at R15bn".

Waste pickers also assisted with keeping the streets clean.

Thomson added that the department was in continual engagement with all those involved, "including the Waste Pickers Association in our effort to improve the conditions under which the waste pickers operate".

She extended condolences to Mahlakwane's family and colleagues.

Thomson also urged all waste pickers to put their safety first when conducting their work.

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