Ward allocation funding has been made available to combat dumping in ward 79, however, without the residents taking ownership of their open spaces, it will not solve the constant dumping problem.
This is the message from ward 79 councillor, Solomon Philander who says open fields throughout the ward, like many others in the Mitchell’s Plain area, are targeted by residents who illegally dump anything from nappies, clothing and wood to furniture, rubble and broken glass bottles.
“People will be employed by the end of the month or beginning February to start working as part of ward allocation,” says Philander.
Open fields in Alpine Way and Don Carlos Street are some of the worst affected in the area.
“Some of these fields are the only demarcated areas for people to make use of. We clean regularly. It is unacceptable for me to see these clothes and rubble here,” he says, referring to the field alongside the Eastridge swimming pool.
“Mostly, it is people dumping their municipal dirt bins here. We received a complaint that refuse was not collected for two weeks and we investigated that. The officials said that it could not be the case and that sometimes they may come a bit later. We understand people do not want their bins to be stolen, but what happens now is that they pay someone to go and empty their bins and if it was a case that the entire community was not having their dirt collected, they have a complaint because they pay for this service,” says Philander.
He says they are sorry to see the parks are cleaned and then a day later they are littered with heaps of dumped dirt.
The Don Carlos site was being cleaned by a team of solid waste contractors on Thursday.
Workers confirmed that they have a set target of around 250 bags per day, but can easily fill around 700 at a time, from one site. This poses further issues with trucks not being able to contain the load.
The City spends millions of rand to clear illegal dumping from open spaces across the city annually, with an additional system that sees the trucks and cars of perpetrators being impounded if caught.
“It is sad that the money spent to clean the park, could be used to beautify the parks,” says Philander.
Philander explains that residents who report illegal dumping can also be rewarded.
“If someone is positively identified for illegal dumping and it leads to a prosecution, the whistle-blower could get R1 000 for every report,” he says.
At one stage, residents were interested in taking ownership of open spaces; however, nothing materialised as residents lost interest.
“Residents can apply for a memorandum of understanding to look after these open spaces and reclaim the open spaces but it must not be talk. Come with a tangible plan and we can see how we can move forward with community partnership. It will only be solved if we have buy-in from the community,” he says.
“We have parks that we have upgraded and then the same community breaks it down. We must have ownership and partnership and people who are proactive. Putting money to an issue will not work if there is no buy-in from the community to [look after it].”
Another plot of land in the area, owned by national government, has also been cleaned and maintained by the City.
Philander says he will put forward a motion for another high school to be built on the land and see if local government and national government can work to make that happen.