Sekhukhune Community Monitors Investigation into the Waste Dumping Crisis
Draft Report 11 December 2021
Our People Plants and Cattle are Suffocating
This is our investigation report into the problem of waste management in our community .We are activists who live in Sekhukhune.
In Sekhukhune there is a serious problem in the villages, there is a lot of waste dumping. Every corner where you go you will see plastics, baby diapers, tins , sharp objects such as broken bottles dumped. Everything that is being used is being thrown everywhere. You will find waste also in the rivers in the dongas , under the bridges . They are all filled with bottles, diapers , dead animals and plastics.
This waste gives off a terrible smell and can affect the health of the people. Waste under bridges block water from flowing.When dongas ,fill up with waste they can cause problems for houses nearby .
Animals eat plastic and this might kill the animals because plastic cannot be digested.
Water and soil is contaminated and this affects the flora and fauna. Dumping waste in rivers adds to the pollution from mining operations.
When we plant, our crops absorb the chemicals or whatever else is in the water. We have observed recently that our rivers don’t have frogs as in the past This means that the waste is affecting the living things in the water.
The cause of this problem is that the municipality has not set up a proper waste management plan. The municipality does not collect waste in our villages in the way they collect waste in the few wealthy suburbs near the towns. Our villages are left to suffer the consequences of having waste being dumped around them when they live.
People need education about waste. They need to know what where and when to dump, what is safe to burn or not. But this eduction can only happen when the Municipality provides a waste collection service.
Municipal councilors tell us that they have no budget to provide a waste management service . We are not sure if this is correct. We have heard of municipality wasting money . We have also heard of corrupt practices that has lead to the loss of millions of rands of money which could be used for community services.
This means that the Municipalities are going against Section 24 of our constitutions which says that we have a right to a safe and healthy environment. They are also ignoring government laws that say that the municipality must provide a waste management service ,.
This shows that people living in poor rural areas are not taken seriously
When mines came into our areas they were followed by an increase in the number of people looking for work in the mines, They were also followed by large shopping malls , taverns and spaza shops. Before mining we did not have a waste problem, Our grandparents led a simple life. They planted their own food kept chicken and cattle and eat the food they produced. They did not have much electronic goods and plastics. Our mothers did not buy diapers for their babies and we did not have the number of shebeens and taverns that dumped bottles every where.
The shebeen owners, the taverns, the mines the shop owners and malls do not work with the with people to see what is happening to the waste. Even the shopping centres don’t have enough dustbins where people can throw their waste. Only a few people who are selling on the streets keep their places clean.
As community activists , we have ideas on how to solve this problem.
We believe Mines, Malls , Spaza shops and municipality have a responsibility to work with the community to solve this problem.
We believe that they should place dumpsters in the village close to where people live, not on the R37 highway , which can only be reached by a few people living close by and those with cars.
Unemployed young people in each village should be employed to collect bags from homes and take them to the dumpsters
In this report we only focussed on the crisis of waste from our homes. We have not looked at mine waste which pollutes our rivers, soil and our air. Monitors have reported on this in the past.
The work we did on this report is part of the Bench Marks Community Monitors programme which aims to train activists in new tools to investigate and report on community problems.
Please see our our findings and our ideas for change in the sections below :
Community Monitors Video on Living near a Mine
Please view these videos made in a previous community monitors video/podcast programme. It gives a good background to the larger problems experienced by the people of Sekhukhune.
The Sekhukhune Community Monitors Group
Activists in Sekhukhune will be happy to receive your comments and especially your ideas and suggestions on how this problem this problem can be resolved. Please WhatsApp up us on b this number +27 79 623 5248