Vygieskraal River is a source of filth and a foul stench because of years of neglect, say those living nearby.
Athlone resident Zainuniesa Waggie says the river draws swarms of flies in summer and rats run into people’s homes.
Vagrants sleep under trees along the river bank and have sex there, use drugs and drink alcohol while residents dump their rubbish in the river, she said.
“The grass is so dirty and long. Before, my neighbour would cut the trees so that we could see what was going on there, but now there is too much rubbish,” she said.
The neighbour has always maintained the grass but for the past three years nobody has been maintaining the river.
“I have spoken to the ward councillor and he said that he has spoken to the relevant people but nothing has happened,” Ms Waggie said.
Residents, she said, had asked the City of Cape Town to build a bridge over the river from Stacice Heights to Loerie Road so that residents and schoolchildren could get to the other side of the bank safely.
“In winter, the children have to walk around the river, which is a longer way to get to school, so by the time they get to school they are soaking wet and tired.
“In summer, they place rocks in the river and the children use that to walk through the river to get to school,” she said.
Ms Waggie complained that the river water was a murky colour and smelled of urine and faeces.
The river’s eroding banks and the call for a bridge to span it were discussed said ward councillor Rashid Adams at the Sub-council 17 meeting at the Dulcie September civic centre in Athlone last Thursday.
Athlone resident Brent Hartogh said he had been unhappy about the trees and grass blocking the view from his back window so one Saturday he had decided to cut the grass and trim the trees.
“Now I can’t do it anymore because the dumping is too much. Three weeks ago, someone stole my surveillance cameras so I don’t see what is going on. It is a disgrace the way this place looks.
“There is a certain smell that comes from the river if it rains, and it upsets your stomach.
“The river banks are busy eroding, and at the end of the day there will be no river banks anymore, he said.
Mr Hartogh said: “There are couches and mattresses lying there, and the people think that it will wash away but it doesn’t and it ends up blocking the river. You have to close your windows or the whole house gets filled with that smell.”
Mr Adams, said the construction of a bridge was planned for the new financial year.
He said the river banks were eroding where part of the pathways in the Nantes Park had collapsed.
“Grant Rigby, head of the City’s district roads and stormwater department, has indicated that the area will be maintained from their side. We are awaiting feedback on when they will commence with repair to the river banks but they have already started on the river clean-up,” Mr Adams said.