DURBAN - KWANDENGEZI and Shongweni residents are concerned about their health now that more piles of illegally dumped waste have accumulated on vacant plots in their neighbourhoods.
They suspect the recent closure of the EnviroServ Shongweni landfill site has given rise to this hazard.
The Sunday Tribune found nine illegal dump sites, most near roadsides, during a visit to the area this week.
Smoke emanating from a large stack of burning files was billowing out of a pile of rubbish on one of the sites.
Three other illegal dump sites seemed to have been used regularly because of the rotting vegetables among the other waste material, which included household waste and garden refuse.
“It never used to be like this, but since June I’ve been noticing that all previously vacant spots are slowly being covered with litter,” said Nomusa Ndawonde.
The mother of three said she was worried about how it would affect her family’s health. She said their two dogs frequented areas where waste had been dumped.
“I worry because my children often play with the dogs,” she said.
Pinetown resident Kate Dunn, who often drove her domestic worker home, said she was appalled to see that previously green vegetation was now covered in waste.
“I think people have stopped caring about the environment and it’s unfortunate because the consequences of their actions will be dire – it is the future generations that will suffer,” she said.
Bhekisisa Zincume said they were concerned about the impact the waste would have on groundwater sources and the local streams, as people were also dumping toxic liquids such as old paint.
“Whoever is doing this has to be stopped, but the problem is that we don’t know whether it’s people from the area who are dumping there or outsiders,” he said.
He said they suspected the increase in the illegal dumping was linked to the closure of EnviroServ Shongweni landfill site, which stopped accepting waste in April.
“People probably find it expensive to drive all the way to the Mariannhill landfill site, so it’s cheaper to just dump on the side of the road, when nobody is watching,” he said.
However, EnviroServ’s Thabiso Taaka denied the site’s closure had had any impact on the illegal dumping as it had not accepted domestic waste even when it was operational.
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said residents had no excuse to dump illegally and those found guilty would be fined R5 000.
She urged residents to recycle some of the waste that ended up on landfill sites or was dumped illegally.
“The city provides a weekly refuse removal service to 945 000 households in formal and informal areas. We even distribute and collect recyclable material from households with the orange bag system, to encourage homeowners to recycle.
“There are numerous recycling centres throughout the metro as well, and at shopping centres. There really is no reason for so much recyclable waste to end up on our streets,” said Mthethwa.
Members of the public are urged to report illegal dumping at 031 311 8804.SUNDAY TRIBUNE