We visited the landfill site north of Bronville Township. We wanted to know if there has been a progress at all. We have been monitoring this site for 3 years now
As we approached the site we were welcomed by the smog, the ash, the passing trucks entering the gate into the dump and waste pickers in the midst of this. On the site the smog worsens as there is continuous burning of waste, the unpleasant smell and diverse movement of people running to the trucks, waste pickers heading to the scales, lining up at the tap and pulling their waste bags to the location. Lastly we see the informal settlement at the site is built from cans, steel, and plastic.
The informal settlement has a few pit toilets. The people use a tap which is at the entrance of the site. There is a sheebeen that sells beer and plays very loud music all day. This settlement is situated right next to the dump. “There are people staying in these shacks though they are not waste pickers. These are people from neighbouring countries who are illegal miners.
One of the waste pickers Ntate Kop said “ There are the people here who steal electric cables and some among them are those who ran away from the community for the crimes they committed.” He continued, “We see awful things here from the birth of babies and their dumping. We are harassed by a gang called Raf3 that takes our belongings after picking, they control sections of the site, they are attacked by other gangs from the community and they threaten to kill us for standing against their authority.”
Mrs Louw a resident described the problem of air pollution they are forced to live with. “In the evenings the smog heads to our houses and our walls are black darkened by the smog” What causes this smog? Some blame it on the waste pickers. But Mr Kop a waste picker gave a different explanation “We don’t burn anything, how can we burn things that we pick for a living? People who burn here are the illegal miners who process gold and cable here at the site during the night hence the smog is during the night. This is when we are not picking and after they have returned from the near shafts. This is a dump site so fire catches any flammable product and it results to a huge fire at night. There are trucks dumping ashe from mines which leads to explosives and fire “said Mr Kop.
We confronted a councillor with this information . “The problem is that there is no maintenance from the service provider. We as the Matjhabeng Municipality are not doing proper oversight.” confirmed the councillor, Mr Victor Morris.
The introduction of access cards for waste pickers to enter or exit the gate of the site is not regulative as it fails to acknowledge the rightful owners. One card is circulated around. This card is only used at the entrance of scaling and recycling machines.
This site is hazardous as it poses a danger both to the community of Bronville and to the social and physical health of the waste pickers.
We want to find out if the landfill site is legal, does it have a license to manage rubbish?
We sent a letter requesting this information to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). A second letter was directed to the Endangered Species Protection Unit of the SAPS that is responsible for finding “illegal dumpers” and taking them to court.
There must be police intervention to deal with all forms of illegal dumping at the site. If this site is legal and has a license, we seek to know if the service provider has a permit. Also if there is a permit we seek to know if it correlates with the conditions at the site and its classification since there are explosives there.
One of our demands is the increased visibility of the Monitoring Committee and we demand copies of recent inspections of the site. We hope all departments will respond to our letters in a short period of time.
By Sampie Beukers , Charlote Dlamini
and Nomzamo Dyonase