Enough of the dumping already

Resident Basil Coetzee stands in the dirt-filled field at the back of Nita Spilhaus Street.

Mitchell’s Plain residents have had it with dumpers who have no pride in the area, saying soon dumping will spiral out of control.

New Woodlands residents, particularly, are angry and disgusted at the state of their neighbourhood, which has two open fields heaped with dirt daily.

The main dumping fields are near Rosa Hope, Hans Aschenborn and Johannes Meintjes streets.

Resident Basil Coetzee said the daily dumping was a serious health hazard as both fields were near parks.

“People cook their food next to the open field, children play at the park. They can get hurt and breath in germs,” he said.

Mr Coetzee appealed to dumpers, whom, he said, were often locals, to be considerate and take pride in their area.

Resident Chrystal Bruyns said she had attempted to clean parts of the area, but residents were disrespectful and continued dumping. Opposite the dumping area, is a community garden residents have called “Our Paradise Park”, in Katrina Harris Street, but that too had been neglected.

“I have tried to clean the garden and the area near the railway line, but people keep dumping. Some people even steal the plants in the garden and sell them. It is sad to see how people are not standing up and taking action against this,” she said.

Another resident, Shane Leng, said people had filled their wheelie-bins with dirt and had thrown it on the open fields.

“We are asking the City of Cape Town to intervene because sooner or later it will get worse and out of control,” he said.

Ward 75 councillor Joan Woodman said dumping caused health risks, degraded the environment and impacted on the value of people’s properties.

Ms Woodman said dumpers who were caught red-handed would have to pay an admission of guilt fine with a written notice to appear in court.

“I believe this is a social illness within our community. If residents don’t take ownership when dumping occurs this opens up your area to become an environment where gangsterism and drugs become the norm.

“Where there is grime, there will be crime. We therefore appeal to residents to be our eyes and ears with regard to illegal dumping,” she said.

Earlier this month, a Tafelsig man had his vehicle impounded by Cape Town law enforcement agencies after he was caught illegally dumping building rubble in Swartklip Road. The driver had been fined
R5 000 and had to pay an additional R7 500 for the release of his vehicle.

The City of Cape Town has also launched an investigation after letters were found dumped among the dirt on a field behind Village Court in Westridge.

Pensioners Geneve, 73, and André Marnwick, 77, said the field, which is at the back of their home, had become a free-for-all dump, getting worse over the past two years.

The couple said their home had almost burnt down due to a fire on the dump on Christmas morning. They had woken up before 6am to the high flames of the fire on the field behind their home.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said law enforcement officers would monitor identified locations regularly, particularly in their weekly anti-dumping operations. He said anyone caught dumping would face a R5 000 admission of guilt fine with a written notice to appear in court.

Mr Smith urged residents to report illegal dumping to the Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline, ensuring that their complaint is logged through the appropriate channels.

“Residents can take photos of offenders that are dumping or provide any other information that could be useful in prosecuting guilty parties. A reward is payable to any person who supplies information about illegal dumping that results in successful enforcement and prosecution,” he said.

Mr Smith said the unlawful disposal of waste cost the City in excess of R350 million a year to clean up – money that could be spent elsewhere.

According to the City, between January 29 last year and January 8 this year, the City’s enforcement issued 323 fines for dumping, totalling R1 093 200. Of these, 122 fines were issued for littering, totalling R60 200. The City also issued 1 182 compliance notices, impounded 111 wheelie bins and impounded 29 vehicles used for illegal dumping.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements and water and waste services, said items dumped across the metro included building rubble, cement, plastics, broken furniture, refuse bags, an array of household containers as well as other items such as nappies, sheep heads and animal carcasses.

“Cement is particularly bad, as it can cling to or take the form of infrastructure such as pipes and specialised equipment would need to be brought in to remove the cement, for instance. This would, of course, drive up the clearing costs,” she said.

Ms Limberg said clean-up efforts were largely complaint-driven and that they were dependent on the public to report illegal dumping and to provide evidence, including photographs, so that the culprits were brought to book.

“We try to act as soon as possible after receiving an official service notification, which is usually logged through our City call centre and helps the City to coordinate its service delivery.

“In addition, we also have dedicated staff who work in particular areas who monitor and request additional services when required,” said Ms Limberg.

Apart from the City’s regular cleansing services, the additional services relating to the frequency of the removal of illegally dumped objects would depend on the official service request and the City’s available capacity.

Residents can contact law enforcement at 021 392 7114/5 or SMS at 31373 or email wastewise@capetown.gov.za with pictures.