A Beacon Valley NGO is calling on the City of Cape Town to engage with them on how best to curb dumping and encourage residents to take ownership of public open spaces.
A Hengelaar Street resident, who refused to be named and whose backyard faces a field, said it was last cleaned in February and not only is there a stench coming from the field, but also an infestation of flies.
He told the Plainsman that, about seven years ago, his vibracrete wall had been damaged by a frontloader, which was used to clear the field.
Founder and director of Nehemiah Call Initiative, Pastor Dean Ramjoomia, said the dumping was a health hazard and that as soon as the field was cleaned people would just dump again.
“It is a cycle and all of this is on us,” he said.
Mr Ramjoomia said millions of rands were spent on cleaning the area, money which could be better spent on supporting residents to keep it clean, plant gardens, use it for sport activities and maintain the open spaces.
He is preparing a report on parks, open spaces and fields in Beacon Valley in a bid to get the City to evaluate and assess what is working to encourage community involvement to keep the area clean.
Mr Ramjoomia said he had a list of nine “serial dumpers” who were prepared to rehabilitate themselves and contribute to keeping their community clean. These people, he said, were paid by contractors to dump builders’ rubble.
He would like to determine the extent of the problem and how much money had been spent on parks or playground upgrades over the past few years in wards 79 and 116.
Mr Ramjoomia said these questions should be answered by both Solomon Philander, chairman of Wolfgat Sub-council and councillor for Ward 79, which includes parts of Beacon Valley; and Michael Pietersen, councillor for Ward 116, which includes Montrose Park/ The Farm, Montclair, parts of Beacon Valley and Mandalay and which forms part of Sub-council 9, in Khayelitsha.
He questioned money spent on maintenance, repairs and payments to Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) employees.
He said better use of the spaces could improve food security, encourage sustainable use of the space, displace crime and create safe spaces for children to play.
Mr Pietersen agreed that dumping in the ward was a challenge which had been made worse by the national Covid-19 lockdown.
He said most of the department were not operational because their services were not deemed essential or because staff were being quarantined.
Mr Pietersen said the pandemic had also delayed procurement, supply and tender processes.
However, he said: “I will support any proposal from the community to take ownership of the open spaces and parks to create food gardens.”
Mr Pietersen said if anyone notices dumping and knows the culprits he would take law enforcement officers to have them fined.
Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste, said they had experienced challenges with cleansing recently, due to a combination of delays in appointing contractors and Covid-19 mitigation measures.
“The contract delay has now been resolved and clearing of illegal dumping hot spots is now resuming,” she said, and apologised for any inconvenience caused.
Ms Limberg added that illegal dumping was a city-wide problem.
The City budgets R110 million to R120 million each year to clear approximately 2 900 large dumping hot spots across the city.
Any person found to be dumping illegally can be fined up to R5 000 and have his or her vehicle impounded. Impounded vehicles are also subject to a release fee of R8 426 for the first impoundment, and this escalates thereafter.
Ms Limberg said: “The only way in which this problem can ever be resolved for good is if residents call each other out when they see or hear of this practice taking place, and let others know that it won’t be tolerated by the broader community.”
She said the City was open to hearing more about the proposal by the community that would foster shared accountability for open spaces.
Jobseeker forms can be collected and submitted at Wolfgat Sub-council office, Lentegeur administrative building, corner of Melkbos Street and Merrydale Avenue or Sub-council 9 at Site B Khayelitsha Shopping Centre.
Illegal dumpers and their relevant details can be reported on 021 400 6157 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Requests for clearing dumping can be submitted to the City’s call centre on 086 010 3089.