Apparently, after the Thulamela Municipality heard about the community's complaints, they started to make an effort to clean up a little. In the photograph, Elvis Netshisaulu (left) and Takalani Ndonyane (right) point at the garbage that had (by 13 April) at least been put into bags. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare.
By Bernard Chiguvare and Maanda Bele
Vendors, businesspeople, commuters and minibus operators in Thohoyandou town claim that their streets have not been cleaned for years. Nearly every surface and corner of the town has been littered with paper, empty cardboard boxes, artificial hair and other garbage. The worst part, the community members say, is that the Thulamela Municipality’s offices are situated right amid all this trash, and yet they seem oblivious to the fact that their town is such a mess.
Vendors on nearly every corner of the town are selling their different products - from second-hand clothing, shoes, fruit and vegetables, and cooked food to people running hair salons. Where, they want to know, should they go with all the waste that keeps piling up, because the municipality does not clean it up?
Not just the littered streets have residents shaking their heads at the municipality and its apparent lack of pride. They say that seeing smelly sewage flowing openly through the town’s streets for weeks at a time before the municipality makes any effort to send workers out to fix it has become a common occurrence.
The state of the town has prompted the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Limpopo to weigh in. “The state of waste service delivery poses a serious threat on the livelihoods of black people as it is difficult to run a business in a filthy environment, therefore as the organisation that cares about people, we call on the local municipality to clean the town urgently,” said Rebecca Mohlala, EFF member of Parliament in a statement.
She said that municipalities were required to ensure that waste was properly managed and disposed of, as per legislation. “It is also important that municipalities must establish the size of their waste disposal facilities, the anticipated lifespan and/or available airspace, types and quantities of waste disposed, and should take note of whether these are operated in a sound and environmentally acceptable manner,” Mohlala said.
After the community’s outcry about the state of their town, municipal workers apparently appeared from nowhere and started cleaning the streets of Thohoyandou on Tuesday, 12 April. Limpopo Mirror visited the town the next day (13 April) to see what was transpiring. Although some areas obviously still needed to be cleaned up, municipal workers could be seen filling black refuse bags with garbage. Some of them, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the correspondent that they had only started cleaning up the previous day.
Thulamela spokesperson Mr Nndwamato Tshila, however, denied that the municipality was struggling to maintain Thohoyandou’s waste. “Our refuse-removal employees work seven days a week, including most of the public holidays. We do not have a problem to collect refuse that is stored in bags at designated refuse receptacles. The challenge is when people dump their waste anywhere they feel like and don’t use refuse bags. But we even have a team who cleans up after these people and erect signs to urge people to only use the designated receptacles and bags, so they don’t continue to dump their trash everywhere. Shop owners and vendors are supposed to put their refuse at approved receptacles, in refuse bags, for collection by the municipality. The other challenge is caused by people who dump their building rubble right next to the road or at any open space they can find,” he said.
Limpopo Mirror caught up with Ms Seani Rambau, who sells clothes and plastic shoes on the streets of Thohoyandou. She has been conducting business from her particular corner for the past three years. “The municipality sometimes take their time in collecting the garbage, which leaves the place smelling terrible. Sometimes I lose customers because of the bad smell that hangs over the place.” Rambau said that she and one of her neighbours sometimes cleaned the area up and tried to put the garbage in one place.
Mr Tshililo Elvis Netshisaulu, one of the community members, walked the correspondent through the town’s streets, pointing at the mess that was left. “The municipality should not wait to be told to do its work. Cleaning and collecting garbage is their duty,” he said.
Date:23 April 2022 - By: