EnviroServ's Thabiso Taaka.
Durban - Tensions are mounting in Upper Highway communities after allegations of discrimination by EnviroServ’s employees and associates.

Community activist Sandile Bele has accused the waste-management company of sowing divisions. He says a false picture has been painted to suggest the black community has a lesser understanding of the issues affecting it.

“They are trying to confuse people by claiming blacks were having difficulties comprehending reports. It is a strategy to undermine the affected communities. This is an insult because the stink affects us all, regardless of race,” he said.

Civil group Upper Highway Air has approached the Durban Equality Court, accusing EnviroServ of discrimination and hate speech.

This comes hot on the heels of monitoring committee members Vincent and Dumisani Mkhize accusing Upper Highway Air of “having mobilised only white community to support an imperialist agenda of outvoting the existing monitoring committee members”.

Upper Highway Air has accused EnviroServ and its officials, Thabiso Taaka and Makgabo van Niekerk, of instigating, advocating and propagating utterances which labelled Upper Highway Air members as “white people”, oppressors” and “racists” who prevented Shongweni workers from going to work.

Upper Highway Air members were allegedly intimidated by EnviroServ’s workers when they attended a criminal case against the company and its executives at the Durban Magistrates Court on August 17. The group faced charges related to flouting waste management regulations.

After the court proceedings, the EnviroServ contingent gathered outside the court where they allegedly chanted “down with white people down, down with the oppressors down, down with those who are preventing us from going to work”.

Upper Highway Air said these incidents had “the effect of creating a hostile or intimidating environment, which is related to the race of a portion of the interested and affected community members on whose behalf and in whose interests the complainant (Upper Highway Air) acts”.

Racial tensions started to simmer on June 28 when a monitoring committee meeting turned into a screaming match after the Mkhize brothers and a group from KwaNdengezi and Shong- weni complained about the inadequate representation of black people on the committee.

“There should be a representative from every area. Black townships have been left out although they are affected,” Vincent Mhkize said at the time.

Taaka confirmed that EnviroServ had been served court papers. “The legal process has started but we will be opposing them.”

Meanwhile, environmental activist Desmond De Sa said a community picket against EnviroServ had been organised for Saturday ahead of the court case next week.

Sunday Tribune