Dumping a health hazard to family

HAZEL ALLIES-HUSSELMAN

Heideveld resident Oesman Muller, his wife and two children all have chronic illnesses, and he says illegal dumping next to their home is a health hazard, one that is making them even more sick.

“It is not hygienic. All of us have had diarrhoea over the past few weeks. The dumping started a few years ago, and it’s getting worse by the day. The City of Cape Town staff used to come clean the area, but they don’t do it anymore. I’ve spoken to so many of the people who come here to dump, but the more you ask them not to dump, the more they dump here – throughout the night and day,” Mr Muller said.

The Muller home is in Towerkop Street, and a pedestrian walkway was built between their Vibracrete wall and Klipftontein Road.

However, two years ago, people started dumping on this small piece of land. Mr Muller takes medication for his high blood pressure and has suffered a stroke, his wife has leukaemia, and his sons have asthma and epilepsy.

“When it is hot, then our house is infested with flies and mice. The guys clean the people’s yard, then they come dump here,” Mr Muller said.

After confronting a man who had emptied a wheelie bin full of garden refuse in front of the family’s home, Mr Oesman called the police. However, he said, they had told him they don’t deal with matters like that.

Mr Muller did not know he could report illegal dumping to the City.

The City of Cape Town spends about R350 million a year to clean illegal dump sites.

Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services, said: “Illegal dumpers across the city are collectively playing their part in depriving communities of services and infrastructure that could be put in place with that amount of money, such as sports facilities or social welfare programmes. Instead, those funds are used to clean up after a few selfish residents.”

Now the City wants to amend the Integrated Waste Management By-Law, so it can impound vehicles used in illegal dumping.

Once the amendment is adopted, the City’s law enforcement agencies will be able to seize, without a warrant, a vehicle that is believed to be involved with illegal dumping.

The transgressor would have to pay a release fee, ranging from R7 500 for a first offence, R10 000 for a second offence and R15 000 for a third defence.

“It is high time that the law-abiding residents of the city stop suffering the consequences of decisions made by those who refuse to dispose of their waste in a safe and legal way,” said Mr Sonnenberg.

“In order for this to change though, we need the help of residents in reporting offenders.”

* Illegal dumping can be reported to the City’s call centre at 0860 103 089. The line is open Monday to Friday from 7am to 4pm.