Durban — Grocery stores should burn their expired food items, instead of disposing of them at landfill sites which endangers the lives of the poor.
eThekwini Municipality IFP leader Councillor Mdu Nkosi remarked after problems emerged at the Buffelsdraai Landfill Site north of Durban. It is understood that security guards at the site allegedly opened fire on a group of people two weeks ago.
A 27-year-old man was killed, while 17 others were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds. The SAPS said eight people were taken in for questioning and 11 firearms were seized and taken in for ballistic testing.
Nkosi said the IFP was concerned about people who dug up discarded, expired food items. Nkosi called for the municipality to come up with policies to ensure that those items are destroyed instead.
Nkosi said there must be a way for those who make their living from recycling to do so safely and legally.
“The people of South Africa have to realise how much the ANC-led government has failed them, so much that they have to rely on making their lives and eating expired, old food from a dumping site, all because they have no jobs,” Nkosi stressed.
DA councillor Mzamo Billy called on eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda to introduce a proper recycling programme to ensure that the jobless can safely and legally make a living from recyclables.
“Kaunda has reached out to the Buffelsdraai community and waste pickers but failed to see this community as part of the stakeholders in the waste management value chain. The reality is, waste pickers and recyclers form part of important stakeholders. The mayor and the city have a legal responsibility to ensure that the city has got an effective waste and recycling management plan. This is necessary for the city’s sustainability.”
Billy added that the collapsed orange bag recycling programme was evidence enough of this failure. The DA conducted an oversight visit to the Buffelsdraai landfill site.
“We were shocked to learn that tons of waste in the landfill site remains on fire for almost 10 days, unabated, following the illegal invasion by waste pickers on the landfill site last week Wednesday, posing some serious health hazards to nearby residents,” Billy stated.
Billy added that the municipality had failed to extinguish the fire or have any tangible plan in place to smother the flames.
“Residents of eThekwini are in desperate need of a mayor that will get things done, not a poser,” Billy said.
eThekwini head of communications Lindiwe Khuzwayo said the site was invaded and set alight by some members of the public, leading to a confrontation between security personnel and the invaders.
Khuzwayo said this confrontation and its aftermath were being investigated by the police.
She urged customers to use Illovo Landfill Site to dispose of their waste and said the public would be advised when operations would resume at the Buffelsdraai site.
Meanwhile, ANC eThekwini Exco member Nkosenhle Madlala said they sympathise with poor people in the community, who are forced to resort to survivalist methods such as picking discarded foodstuffs and recyclables from the landfill sites.
Madlala said the government has the responsibility to protect those people who are exposing themselves to harm and the unsuspecting people who end up buying and utilising some of these items from the site.
“This could lead to a serious disease outbreak and the city would be held accountable. We also have a responsibility to protect council employees working on these sites,” Madlala said.
Madlala said the reasons the security company contract was reviewed, was that there were serious lapses which led to many unfortunate incidents, including the injuries and deaths.
Madlala said all landfill sites are governed by a legislative framework monitored by the Department of Environmental Affairs. Accordingly, non-compliance could result in the city being liable for a fine or worse punishment.
“As the ANC we support the mayor and the city’s effort to find a lasting solution to the problems plaguing the Buffelsdraai Landfill.”
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