Residents blamed for sewage spills

Raw sewage fills Dorris Street in Wallacedene.

Sewage spills and illegal dumping in Wallacedene’s streets have become an almost daily ordeal, but residents largely have themselves to blame, say councillors.

Ward 6 councillor Simpiwe Nonkeyizana said that despite running community clean-up drives – the latest was on March 27 – residents of both informal and formal settlements in Wallacedene continued to dump garbage in sewers and stormwater drains, causing them to block.

Phases 6, 7 and 9 of Wallacedene, including parts of Klein Begin, were seeing sewage spills every second day because of nappies, old clothes, building material, food, plastic and “anything disposable” clogging the pipes.

“Children play barefoot in the mess, and they are not aware that it can make them ill,” said Mr Nonkeyizana.

Sprawling developments and mushrooming shanty towns aggravated the problem, he said.

“The number of people increases every day,” he said.

“Wallacedene was designed for quite a small controllable population, but on places earmarked for future churches or libraries, shacks have been placed there.”

Many in the shanty towns didn’t have toilets and use buckets, which they emptied in the street or down stormwater drains.

He had called in City sanitation staff several times to clean up but the problem persisted, he said.

“I encourage residents to help keep their communities clean, but it seems like my cries only reach a certain part of this population while most of them continue to dump their rubbish.”

He said he encouraged people to take rubble and waste to the dump in Maroela Road, Kraaifontein.

Councillor Xoliswa Pakela said she had struggled unsuccessfully for six years to change attitudes in the area about dumping.

“Wallacedene residents are very unhygienic, and it is making their own children ill.”

She recalled an incident where she had caught a man selling chicken outside his house and throwing the skin and bones down a drain.

On Thursday April 25, Imvumelwano Primary School staff could not get to their cars in the parking lot because of a sewage spill.

Metro east education district circuit manager Davendra Rampersad said it wasn’t the first time that had happened.

“We saw this happening many times last year, and it is because residents are dumping down their toilets, and it is unfortunate that we as a school have to suffer,” he said.

Mr Rampersad said the school had been teaching pupils about the illnesses caused by sewage.

“We are hoping that the learners will take this lesson home with them and encourage their parents and neighbors to do the same,” he said.

Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said the Maroela South housing project should solve some of the sewage problems by redirecting “upstream flows” into a separate pipeline, but it had been delayed by unrest.

“This project aims at addressing the issue of foreign objects by means of a sand trap system that will be emptied at regular intervals.”

Ms Limberg said by-laws prohibited anyone sticking anything down a sewer other than toilet paper and human waste. And grey water should be used to flush.

“We need residents to work with us to keep the systems functional. The system is designed to accommodate the needs of all residents in the area, but will not work effectively if residents misuse it,” she said.

According to the City’s website, R350 million is spent annually to clean up after illegal dumpers.

Illegal dumping is a crime. Those convicted face fines of between R500 and R10 000 and six months to two years in jail.

To report illegal dumping call 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline or email solidwaste.bylaw@capetown.gov.za.