PICS | Lenasia man rolls up his sleeves to keep his neighbourhood clean

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A vegetable garden started by the community of Lenasia South.
A vegetable garden started by the community of Lenasia South.
Supplied by Thabo Madiba
  • Thabo David Madiba is not deterred by several challenges facing his neighbourhood.
  • Madiba's hands are spread across many projects, in order to bring change to Lenasia South.
  • He and others have volunteered to clean stormwater drains and create a vegetable garden.
  • GOOD NEWS DAY IS BACK! News24 celebrates the people restoring pride in our country. Read their stories here

"I hate filth. I love hygienic and clean places."

Thabo David Madiba, 40, did not allow unemployment to occupy his mind and instead rolled up his sleeves to keep his environment and surroundings clean.

One day, he peeped through his window and was irritated by the filth outside.

"Ever since that day, I told myself I would never live in a dirty place. Dirt leads to many wrong things, including crime. If we leave our empty places unkempt, criminals will take advantage of that and hurt us," he said.

In 2018, Madiba, joined by other unemployed youth of Lenasia South, began cleaning unkempt open spaces in the area.

"Those unoccupied spaces were turned into dumping sites. Dumping litter anywhere breeds rodents and snakes sometimes. We then decided to start cleaning it. While cleaning those spaces, we noticed many challenges caused by blocked stormwater drains.

"In 2021, during Covid-19, armed with our tools, we headed to those drains and cleaned it. We started with those installed along the main roads. We feared they would lead to flooding in our homes during rainy seasons. 

We are volunteering to clean our drains. We clean them regularly. We are now going street by street. When we started, we wanted to bring change to our community. We have then spread our wings going into other places.

Madiba said there was no unity in his community and they could not wait for the municipality to do its job.

"We went ahead and cleaned those drains. It is a risky job. We are exposed to things I can't mention when we unblock those drains. Our community must be taught that stormwater drains are meant for water only. They are not waste bins."

Last year, Madiba and his team of 15 people spread their wings to the Lenasia South Hospital.

Lenasia South Hospital
Volunteers cleaning Lenasia South Hospital.
Thabo David Madiba
Thabo David Madiba
Stormwater drain
Thabo David Madiba cleaning a blocked storm water drain.

"We noticed that our services were needed at the hospital. They needed volunteers. We met with the management, and they welcomed us as volunteers. We cleaned their drains too. We realised that the hospital required our support.

"We are planning to assist our schools. We use tools donated by local hardware. We need more donations," he said.


Last year, Madiba joined 39 elders from the area and neighbouring places by starting a vegetable garden.

The garden is situated on a piece of land earmarked for a recreational park.

The land has been standing idle and people were robbed there.

"We saw an opportunity to prevent crime in that area by utilising the land. We made relevant applications and were temporarily approved to start our garden. We have planted cabbages, spinach, tomatoes, onions and carrots. We also act as security guards 24/7 in our garden. 

He said

We sell what we plant. We also eat from it. We are testing how this project would bring income to our livelihoods. We also assist poor households. Again, we have an initiative where we ask for clothing items, including uniforms and shoes in good condition, to assist poor pupils.

Madiba appealed for donations of gardening tools and overalls, and asked the government for a piece of land to expand the garden.

To maintain his livelihood, Madiba and four unemployed individuals clean dustbins, earning R100 from each home they assist.

"I want to see change. Lenasia South is not dead. There are young and old who are bringing changes in our area, and I am part of them. We are not lazy, as many have concluded. We will not be deterred. There are many things we are doing and plan to do.

"There is more we can do for our community. The only hindrance is the financial and emotional support we are pleading for from Samaritans. I hope and believe that we are almost there. It is just a matter of time before Lenasia South becomes clean and hygienic," said Madiba.

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