Bophelong is small township situated next to the biggest steel company called Accelor Mittal. Bophelong consists of old and the new locations called Muvhango or Bophelong extension. It is about twenty minutes’ walk from Bophelong to MITTAL. Vaal triangle is declared by the government as an air priority area meaning the area has large amount of pollution caused by mostly the industries.
In my investigations I gather information concerning respiratory related health problems experienced by the local community. I have found that many people of Bophelong have asthma, itchy skins, and sinuses. I went to the local clinic and asked for the statistics of people who have the above-mentioned diseases. One of the nurses told me that she was not able to give us any information and that I should go to the Department of Health we would get full information of what I want.
On the 17th of April 2015 I interviewed a resident of Bophelong, Catherine Somtseu. She had an asthmatic son. “It was very beautiful to see my son running around playing with his toys. One day he woke me up on 11:15pm crying as if someone grabbed his neck. I tried to calm him down till when we have to go to the doctor in the morning at Vanderbijlpark. The doctor examined him and gave him some pump spray and said that my son has asthma. I was so shocked because we never had someone with asthma in the family. When I asked the doctor what might be the problem he said it might be the polluted air that we are breathing.” she testified.
Ms Somtseu thanked me for talking to her she said “I am very happy to testify my heart breaking story because I heal inside. And I am also happy to know that there are people who are fighting for environmental justice because people are getting sick everyday and they don’t have knowledge of asking what the issue is.”
We are continuing this investigation as the VEJA Air Quality Team. We all aware that air quality act (AQA) it’s all about compliance, legislation and atmospheric licensing. So all this giant polluters must comply with the standards to make sure that air quality act is implemented. But we know that they won’t do that unless the people affected take action. Our investigation is aimed at supporting people to take action to make the law work.
By Mpho Selemela
Air pollution makes me repeat everything I do
I interviewed a resident who told me how air pollution makes her life a mistery.
It was early on Monday morning when Mama Masechaba was busy preparing for her children to go to school. While she was busy, she noticed that the house is full of dirt and also the school uniform was dusty with fine dust coming from the mine.
“Oh!! Morena waka, e kabe motho oa etse jwang jwale ha ho le moo bana ba tlameile hoya sekolong empa diaparo tsa bona tsa sekolo dile tshilafetse jee? Ebe ba tla etsang jwang ka pela bana ba bang ba le jee?”
(what am I going to do now my children need to go to school but how are they going to look in front of other children at school when their clothes are dirty like this?)
Okay even though the school uniform is dusty, children are still going to school” said Mama Masechaba.
“Ke cho se bile ba qadile ke ntho ee ya bone, ke hore motho ha a kgone le ho kolomaka ka mehla ha fela o ka kolomaka maswabi ke a hore tshila e fofa moyeng”. (I mean just look they have already started with this mass, how are we supposed to clean our homes when only every day after one has to do house chores but dirt is floating all over the place) said Mama Masechaba.
“ Ho tlameile ho etswe ho hong ho emisa bohlaswa bona, ke kgathetse ke ho phetha phethana le ho kolomakana le ntlo ka mehla”. (Something must be done to stop all this mass, I am really tired of repeating everything I do in my house, this is very annoying me) said Mama Masechaba tiredly.