Increased security at the Vissershok landfill site on the N7 has upset residents of the adjacent Frankdale informal settlement as they are prevented from accessing their source of food and livelihood.
As result, the residents clashed with security guards last week and engaged in protests by burning tyres on the access road to the site.
Linked to the protests, the City has suspended the dumping of waste from households, “including off-spec foodstuffs from food manufacturers as well as food stuffs from supermarkets”, said Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services Shehaam Sims.
Sims’s executive support officer, Heinrich Heymann said people “forced” their way onto the site on November 15, following which the city “closed it”. It was reopened on the 21st and people tried to force their way in, he said, resulting it being closed again.
Additional security was then provided and it was reopened to receive general waste today.
But while Frankdale informal settlement residents have been prevented from collecting food at the site, they say security guards were collecting dumped food past its expiry date and then selling it for R10 a tray to marginalised residents.
Frankdale resident Boniswa Nyalela, 42, a mother of three children aged 12, 19, and 24, said she had lived in the informal settlement for ten years and her children had grown up eating food dumped at the landfill site.
Nyalela said residents were particularly upset with the fact that security guards were now trying to sell them expired food items from the dump.
She said a tray containing five pieces of expired chicken was sold to them for R10.
“We get all kinds of meat from the landfill site,” said Nyalela.
Frankdale resident Thozama Mankayi also claimed people working at the landfill site were selling trays of expired food for R10.
Mankayi, who have lived in the Frankdale informal settlement since 1985 and raised two children who are now aged 20 and 25, said security at the site had been increased last week, preventing them from accessing the dump.
She said when they tried to collect food at the landfill site private security guards contracted by the City and the City’s Law Enforcement prevented them from doing so.
She said residents relied on the landfill site to eke out a living, as besides gathering food, they gathered metal to sell at the scrapyard and other goods.
A visit to the landfill site yesterday (subs: Tuesday) revealed four Metro Police vans atop a hill of buried refuse, with a good view of the landfill site as well as the informal settlement.
One officer was seen patrolling the main road with a Quad Bike and stopping and questioning residents carrying recyclable materials from the landfill site.
Five men in their early 20’s were seen standing at one of the landfill access gate but were later confronted and chased away by Metro Cops.
One of them, Hendry Johnson, 27, says he was very upset with the tightening of security at the site as it meant an end to his source of income.
Johnson, who showed West Cape News a wound on his shoulder which he claimed was the result of Metro Police shooting at him when the protest flared up on Tuesday last week, said from his childhood to date he had lived off the landfill site and “we are very happy with the situation now”.
“The tip is our source of food and income,” said Johnson.
ANC ward councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said the City needed to ensure security guards did not sell food from the landfill and said the City needed to relocate the Frankdale residents and provide them with municipal services and create business and job opportunities for them.
Makeleni said it was difficult to convince the residents that the expired food was not healthy for them when they and their children had been eating it for years.
“People have been eating that food for many years. Some of them their children had grown from eating that food and now they are old and working elsewhere. The City must come up with opportunities so that the residents are not forced to eat from the landfill,” said Makeleni.
Sims said it was extremely dangerous to invade a landfill site because of the hazard posed by contaminated food, as well as the heavy machinery moving on uneven terrain where the operator had a limited view of their immediate surroundings.
This made it “very dangerous” for anyone near the disposal operations, said Sims.
She said the safety and security of the landfill had been re-established with the assistance of the City’s Law Enforcement and Security Services contingents. - Peter Luhanga