Wolseley residents complain of no refuse collection for five years


Municipality says iIlegal electrical connections and land occupations hinder service delivery in Zakhele

Photo of Jakoba Fredericks in front of her home.
Zakhele township resident Jakoba Fredericks explains how she has been sweeping her road and removing her own rubbish for the past five years. The municipality has since hired smaller trucks to conduct door-to-door collections. Photo: Barbara Maregele

Residents who moved to Zakhele in Wolseley five years ago say the municipality hasn’t provided any basic services despite paying for them.

After GroundUp sent questions to Witzenberg Municipality about the absence of refuse removal for all these years, the municipality sent out a small truck to collect the garbage.

Jakoba Fredericks, a resident, says she pays up to R500 a month to the municipality for services. To dispose of her rubbish she has to catch the municipal truck when it collects garbage in Pine Valley, a few streets away.

“If I’m home and I hear the truck going around to the other houses, I run with mine and my neighbour’s rubbish that I can carry,” says Fredericks.

“We have to borrow council bags [from the Pine Valley residents]. When we first moved in, we got bags for the dirt once or twice,” she says. “When the dirt bag is full. I have to leave it on the roof of my toilet outside until I can take it away myself.”

She says in summer there are flies everywhere. “We don’t get any services here. The people staying behind me throw their dirt away in a ditch around the corner and it blows into my yard.”

Witzenberg municipal manager David Nasson told GroundUp that black and green bags were delivered to residents every three months, but did not say how many bags were given to each household.

Nasson said the refuse was removed from the greater Pine Valley township weekly, but that rubbish collection “has become problematic” because of illegal electrical connections across roads in Zakhele.

He confirmed that residents had to “take their bags to a central site” where the rubbish truck did collections. Since GroundUp’s questions to the municipality in August, Nasson said they have sent small trucks to collect refuse bags in front of households.

Nasson also said land occupation had a “very negative impact” on service delivery and that “a solution” for the issues would be tabled in council at the end of October. However, Fredericks and her fellow residents who are complaining about the lack of service were not involved in the land occupation Nasson referred to.

The occupation Nasson was referring to is a set of shacks that were built on vacant land owned by the municipality and a private landowner in the Pine Valley area. It’s unclear why the occupation prevented the garbage collection in Zakhele which is about a kilometre away. On 22 August, the occupied area erupted in protests when nearly 30 shacks were demolished. The occupying residents, most of whom were backyarders or living with their parents, told GroundUp that they began erecting shacks in July after their pleas for housing in the area “fell on deaf ears”.

Following interventions by activists and the South African Human Rights Commission, the municipality apologised to those whose shacks were demolished unlawfully.

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TOPICS:  Sanitation