Durban - The eThekwini Municipality’s orange bags saga continues despite the arrest of people fingered in the multimillion-rand tender fraud allegedly connected to supply of the bags.
Those arrested include former mayor Zandile Gumede, several other city officials and those who were awarded the tenders.
While there were further delays in the fraud and corruption case against Gumede and her co-accused, problems in the distribution of the orange bags and waste removal continue.
Some residents and opposition parties complained that the orange bags were not being distributed adequately, and that paper and cardboard waste, which are to be disposed of using the orange bags, were not being collected.
Some said they used black bags meant for normal waste instead, and others said they tried to do the right thing by separating waste material from paper and cardboard for recycling purposes by putting it in transparent bags, but these were not being collected.
While opposition members of the eThekwini executive committee are calling for urgent intervention and the appointment of a competent private company to do the job, without political interference, residents said they were caught in the middle of politics in the way of service delivery.
Akesh Teeruth, a member of the Phoenix ratepayers’ association, said residents had no option but to dispose of recyclable material with other waste.
Sanjiv Sewparsad of Malvern said the orange bags saga continued to affect residents, who were putting paper, plastic and cardboard together with other material in the black bags to be collected.
He said some residents took recyclable material to the recycling centre in Cato Manor.
Gumede is currently out on R50000 bail relating to a Durban Solid Waste (DSW) tender corruption case.
She is accused of unduly influencing the awarding of a R208million DSW contract awarded in 2008, which includes supply of the orange bags.
Recently, the prosecution revealed that the State had found new evidence which increases the total amount of fraud and corruption proceedings to R389m.
Yesterday Gumede and her co- accused, Mondli Mthembu, DSW deputy head Robert Abbu, the city’s supply chain manager Sandile Ngcobo and several service providers, appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court.
The case was adjourned again to April 16 to allow the State to conclude its investigations, which include analysis of cellphone evidence, bank statements and laptops.
Last October, the Hawks and Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) swooped on the accused, seizing homes and luxury cars.
A property in Somerset Park, uMhlanga, which Gumede had listed as her home address, was also raided.
IFP exco member Mdu Nkosi said he received calls daily from residents complaining about not receiving the orange bags and waste not being collected.
“There are some key heads within the city who have not been arrested but are accounting officers and decision-makers,” he said.
Nkosi said while the orange bags and waste collection saga continued, residents were stuck with uncollected waste.
He believed political interference dictated who should be arrested and who should not.
“Durban is filthy and the city needs a serious turnaround strategy. People have an interest in this case. We have seen officials and politicians resign when they get caught; this time they are not going to get off lightly. We want to see them going to jail,” he said.
DA exco member Thabani Mthethwa said waste collection problems dated back four years and despite the arrests in the orange bags saga, the issues had not been resolved.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela denied there were problems with the distribution and collection of orange bags from residential areas.
He said the service was running as normal.
“We had problems in the past with the issue of distribution and collection of recyclable waste, but all those challenges were sorted out,” he said.