root - January 16, 2024

August Plaatjies is conducting a one-man battle against garbage. 

Peter Luhanga

Armed with a shovel, August Plaatjies has made it his personal mission to clear streets of piles of uncollected rubbish in Dunoon township, Cape Town.

Plaatjies, who lives in the newly established Newlands informal settlement along Potsdam Road, was in Dunoon’s Ekupholweni informal settlement on Saturday clearing a pile of plastic and other waste that had spilled over from the nearby rubbish containers. The garbage was obstructing access to the communal toilets.

According to News24, the municipality is struggling with waste removal in some informal settlements after terminating a contract with a supplier of rubbish removal bags.

Consistency in waste management in both formal and informal areas has been badly impacted. Despite efforts by the City to dispatch teams to affected areas, residents have been complaining of their refuse being collected late or not at all. In Dunoon, this has led to mounds of uncollected domestic waste, attracting more flies and rodents than usual.

Plaatjies was shovelling the rubbish so that the toilets could be accessed when he said that the City council was slow and complained that all of the streets are full of rubbish, and noted that he was not getting paid.

As he shovelled the waste, flies swarmed around him, and a noxious smell emanated from the pile. Residents of Siyahlala and Ekupholweni informal settlements dispose of all their household waste there, including human excrement.

Plaatjies says he sells empty cans to a recycling company in Killarney Gardens and makes about R60 per day.

Ekupholweni resident and community leader, Pesi Masigcinane, says they were waiting for the City to tell residents why municipal refuse services in the area have been interrupted. “Council doesn’t inform us.”

“Our children are playing in heaps of uncollected waste. … We don’t even have toilets or piped water. Flies feed on the waste and come into our houses. We’ve had this problem since August.”

GroundUp sent several questions related to the waste management issues across Cape Town, in response, municipal spokesperson, Luthando Tyhalibongo said: “The City is aware of the ongoing Urban Waste Management service delivery challenges. We are making alternative arrangements to mitigate any negative impact on residents.” —GroundUp

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