Illegal sand mining along Tafelsig roads pose a safety threat

Contractors collecting sand by the bakkie load on Tafelsig road verges could be weakening the tar, causing sinkholes and posing a threat to children and other pedestrians.

Tafelsig ward councillor Washiela Harris said when residents contact her about criminals stealing sand at the side of the road, she asks them, where possible, to take photographs of the vehicles’ registration numbers and of the perpetrators.

Patricia Williams, from Tafelsig, and Tafelsig ward councillor Washiela Harris stand in a hole, where sand was excavated on Oranjekloof Road.

“I immediately alert law enforcement because they have the resources, can respond almost immediately and can issue fines,” she said.

Ms Harris said illegal sand mining in the area was put on her radar as soon as she became councillor in October 2019.

“It has been escalating. Every other day, I get complaints and we need to bring these criminals destroying our community to book,” she said.

Ms Harris said the illegal collection of sand was damaging infrastructure and weakening the sides of the road.

She feared people – particularly children – may fall into these ditches and that the sand might collapse in on them.

An upright car bumper gives an indication of the depth of a hole from which sand has been illegally mined.

City Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason said they could not arrest people for removing the sand but could issue steep fines, when they catch the perpetrators in the act.

He said this collection of sand was known as excavation in the Streets and Public Places By-Law. According to City regulations, it is illegal to “make or cause an excavation or dig a pit or trench in a public road without the City’s written permission”.

Mr Dyason said there were a few hot spots and that many fines had already been issued to perpetrators at the corner of Oranjekloof Road and Andes Street, where Ms Harris reported that sand was being collected on Friday June 11.

With her was walking bus member Patricia Williams who said ditches were dug under palisade fencing.

Ms Williams said she had seen children crawl in and out of the school premises through these ditches.

“They can get hurt and they can ‘escape’ from school,” she said.

City executive director for transport Dalene Campbell said while the severity of sand mining varied from case to case, sand mining could compromise the road’s structural integrity and could pose a hazard to children and other pedestrians.

She said the corner of Tafelberg Street and Nina Street; and Rita Street were also hot spots in the area

Other sand excavations sites include the outskirts of Dolomite sportsfield, bordering Searidge Primary School, the ditches go under the school’s palisade fencing allowing entry and exit; corner of Paulsberg and Oranjekloof Road; and on the island in the middle of AZ Berman Drive, at Kilimanjaro Street.