Cape Town: Frustrated residents from Witsand in Atlantis are threatening to take to the streets if the City of Cape Town does not make a plan to clean up their streets.
According to angry residents, waste and refuse have been piling up since the end of June after the city terminated the contract of a local cleaning company.
This has led to rats running into residents’ shacks and some are even complaining that their children are getting skin rashes and illnesses from living in these dire circumstances.
It is not only Atlantis who have been affected by this but many other informal settlements in the city including Khayelitsha, Delft, Wallacedene, Driftsands, Fairdale, Dunoon, Atlantis, Philippi, Gugulethu and Langa.
Community leader, Moses Matiso, who is also the deputy chair of the South African National Civics Organisation, said it is inhumane to expect people to live between the rubbish.
Matiso said the community has tried their utmost best to negotiate with the city with possible solutions but it seems as if they are not being heard.
“We have threatened to take to the streets and then for two days clean-up operations started. Once we withdrew the protest nothing has been happening since. It seems that our only solution now is to take to the streets for our basic human rights - everyone has the right to a safe and healthy environment,” he said.
Matiso said he has been approached by residents who are complaining that their lives have been affected as even the roads are closed due to the rubbish filling the streets.
“We have reached a point where we can no longer look the other way and for solutions. Something has to be done. Urgently”, Matiso said.
Charlotte Ngcobo echoed Matiso’s sentiments.
The woman said even her child has been affected by the waste piling up and has developed a skin rash.
“Children will be children and the waste is less than a metre from our shacks. They play in it and get sick. I don’t even want to mention the rats and mice that are now running in and out of our shacks as a result of this thing. We are tired and something needs to be done. Even our drains are blocked here,” she explained.
Ngcobo added that the smell is unbearable.
Alderman Grant Twigg, Mayco Member for Urban Waste Management, said the city was working tirelessly to get the refuse collection schedule back to normal in affected informal settlements.
According to the city residents are assured that the city’s Urban Waste Management Directorate is making every effort to address the refuse collection delays that are currently being experienced in affected informal settlements across Cape Town.
“Cleaning services in these areas have unfortunately been affected since 1 July 2023. Since then, city teams have been servicing affected areas by extending their internal resources and will continue to do so until further notice,” said Twigg.
According to a statement the city is deploying cleaning workers from other programmes in the city, and is working over weekends to address the situation on the ground.
He stated: “Unfortunately there are simply not enough staff available to realistically compensate for absence of normal planned programmes currently.”
Twigg said the city sincerely regrets any inconvenience caused to residents who have been negatively affected by this disruption.