In protest over insufficient sanitation services, residents of West Beach informal settlement in Du Noon pushed a shipping container used for storing solid waste into the area’s main street on Sunday.Using logs, a group of men shifted the container onto Mnandi Road before dawn on Sunday.
At about 8am there were ten police officers observing a group of about 50 residents singing and dancing, many of them holding placards drawing attention to the lack of electricity, insufficient toilets and unsuitable handling of solid waste.
The residents also denounced ANC ward councillor and candidate Lubabalo Makeleni, accusing him of not listening to them and failing to improve delivery in the settlement.
Refuse from the shipping container was strewn across the streets and tyres were set alight, billowing black smoke into the air.
Bucket toilets had also been kicked across the road, scattering faeces acress the street.
The West Beach residents were joined by residents from nearby informal settlements who cheered them on.
West Beach community leader Micheal Caji said a group of “strong men” had got up at 4am to push the shipping container filled with rubbish onto the road, as they had been complaining about the smell emanating from the container, which they believed was also a breeding ground for rats, for some time.
Caji said residents were not only unhappy with refuse being stored in shipping container but also the lack of toilets and water standpipes.
Residents Thembisa Mamah, 26, said the shipping container, which stored garbage collected from West Beach households before being taken to a landfill, was a breeding ground for rats that spread disease and “eat our groceries”.
Additionally, she said the bucket system still in place in West Beach contributed to a continual stench in the area.
“We want things right before the elections,” she said.
One of the men who helped push the container into the road, Elphas Bangani, 42, said the nearby RDP house residents also dumped their rubbish, as well as dead animals, next to the shipping container as they knew it was for refuse.
“Our kids are sick. They play on the rubbish. People in RDP houses come and dump their rubbish here. They dump dead dogs, cats and sheep heads,” said Bangani.
Mamah said they had reported their complaints to ANC ward councilor Lubabalo Makeleni but had received no help.
Protestor Thembalethu Khalo said Makeleni had arrived at the start of the protest on Sunday morning and threatened that he was going to lay charges of inciting violence against community leaders involved.
On Monday, the container had not been removed and taxis were forced to negotiate a circuitous route through the settlement.
Contacted for comment, Makeleni said he was busy in meetings and an appointment to speak to him would need to be made.
Asked whether he had indeed threatened to lay charges against community leaders, Makeleni said: “You can write whatever you want.” — Peter Luhanga, West Cape News