City plays blame game over heaps of rubbish in Cape Town’s Marikana settlement

Rubbish is piling up on the doorsteps of homes in Marikana informal settlement. Photos by Sandiso Phaliso

Marikana residents say they have had to put up with heaps of rubbish on their doorstep for months now.

Siphokazi Mandi fears for the safety of her children and others living in Marikana informal settlement as uncollected rubbish is piling up on their doorsteps. She blames the lack of services on the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC). Residents say life was better under the apartheid government because streets were cleaned weekly.

Mandi told Elitsha that rubbish has not been collected for months and their complaints have not been attended to. “There are flies everywhere. The rubbish is infested with maggots and dead animals. The stench is unbearable. Our health is at risk. We feel we have been ignored by the ruling party. The governing party, the ANC, is not taking care of us. No human being deserves to live under these conditions,” said Mandi. Toilets, she said, are so far from where people live, they choose to relieve themselves in front of their homes instead, adding to the stench.

Another resident, Simphiwe Colosa, said it was unhealthy living in Marikana informal settlement. “Our children get sick and when we complain we are told things will get better, but we live in that promise for years. Life was better under the apartheid government because streets were cleaned on a weekly basis. This government is failing us,” he said.

The residents say they are living in a pigsty as the contractor responsible for cleaning the area has stopped working. Differences over who should get the temporary jobs to clean the area are reportedly behind the stoppage. “We are dissatisfied with the current government and we need to change it and give a chance to another party,” said Athenkosi Mcinga, a community leader. “We feel we are being taken advantage of because we are poor. What kind of government is it that is not taking care of their own people?” he asked.

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Residents say that the rubbish has been uncollected for months, while the City of Cape Town blames residents for illegal dumping.

Mayoral commitee member for water and waste, Xanthea Limberg, told Elitsha her department has recently employed a contractor to provide door-to-door refuse collection and area cleansing and litter picking services. She said illegal dumping was not isolated to Marikana but “a problem across the city, including in Philippi”. “In some cases illegal dumping reoccurs as soon as the illegal dumping on open spaces has been cleared,” said Limberg.

She said the City budgets approximately R130-million for the clearing of 2,900 large, illegal dumping hotspots each year across the city. She pleads with residents to “not resort to illegal dumping”.

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