File picture: Itumeleng English/ANA
Johannesburg - A dedicated task team has been set up by the City of Joburg to investigate the trashing of the inner city, allegedly by disgruntled former [email protected] employees.

The city has vowed not to sit back and watch “those thugs trash our city”, which is costing ratepayers R50000 a day.

Charges have been laid against the culprits following their identification through video footage and photos.

Member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for public safety Michael Sun said the Joburg Metro Police Department would set up a dedicated task team to help the police with criminal investigations.

The city claims the damage is being caused by workers whose three-month contract to clean up the city ended at the end of last month.

It is alleged that these former workers have been disrupting the collection of refuse by Pikitup.

Sun has sent a letter to Gauteng provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange, expressing the city’s concern and requesting urgent intervention by the SAPS.

“In recent weeks, we have seen our inner city being targeted through a criminal campaign that has seen the trashing of our city, and intimidating and physically attacking of Pikitup staff.

“Through their guerrilla warfare-style attack, they have turned over refuse bins, scattered trash in areas where Pikitup staff have previously cleaned, intimidated staff, forced staff out of waste removal trucks at gunpoint and used our trucks to unload waste that has been collected.

“A female Pikitup staff member was assaulted when she tried to stop the culprits from trashing the streets where she had just cleaned,” he said.

Mayor Herman Mashaba said he had made it clear that “cowardly and criminal behaviour will not be tolerated”.

According to the MMC for environment, infrastructure and service delivery, Nico de Jager, millions of rand was spent keeping the city clean.

“Being unable to clean the piling waste has serious health implications for residents, and we have had to make use of additional resources and cleaning shifts that cost the city R50000 of taxpayers’ money per day.”

He said he was also aware that some of the culprits were planning to disrupt the city’s A Re Sebetseng cleaning campaign, which is scheduled to take place throughout the city this Saturday.

“We will not allow this politically motivated and completely unlawful campaign to disrupt services.

“Pikitup staff will continue to exercise their mandate by cleaning the streets of Joburg, and we will ensure that any individuals who seek to intimidate our employees, or further disrupt services, are apprehended and criminally charged,” De Jager said.

The city terminated the [email protected] campaign in May, saying that only ANC card-carrying members were being given the temporary work, and that the middlemen who facilitated the employment were making millions of rand.

Mashaba announced at the time that a new, similar programme would be launched, with the city hiring people directly.

An additional R49.2million has been allocated to Pikitup through the adjustment budget to clean up the city.

The Star