Khayelitsha volunteers clean up their own area

The group, who work for free, want City of Cape Town to provide material like rubbish bags and brooms

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Volunteers have been cleaning up parts of Level Two informal settlement since July last year. Photo: Vincent Lali

Shack dwellers in Khayelitsha, Cape Town have rallied together to clean up spaces around informal settlements.

One of the rubbish-filled spaces recently cleaned by about 12 residents was in Level Two informal settlement near the Makhaya Deport.

Luvuyo Khutshwa, who heads the community project, said they want to create spaces for children to play that are free from rubbish and rats.

The volunteers started their cleaning project in July 2021. Khutshwa said before they started the project, part of the settlement was littered with rubbish and illegal dump sites.

Khutshwa said the volunteers work from 9am to 4 pm during the week without compensation and with very little cleaning equipment. “We meet at my place in the mornings, divide ourselves into groups and assign each group to certain sections,” he said.

He said rubbish is put in council garbage bags and dropped at the City of Cape Town’s waste management truck on Wednesdays and Fridays.

He said the volunteers set aside recyclables for unemployed residents who sell them to make ends meet. “Some residents shit in plastic bags and throw them away. We need gloves because we come into contact with faeces when we pick up those plastic bags,” he said.

Volunteer Anathi Swartbooi said they use their own brooms to clean. “We want the City to give us overalls, hats, safety boots, gloves and brooms. We also want a stipend,” she said. Swartbooi said she relies on her two children’s grants to buy food and other necessities.

Community leader Mabhelandile Twani said residents are grateful that the volunteers clean without payment. “Level Two is now attractive to other residents because it is clean. We have been staying here for almost two years, but the City continues to neglect us,” said Twani.

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Waste Management Grant Twigg praised the volunteers. He said the council does not yet have capacity to provide services.

About helping the volunteers start a recycling project, Twigg said: “The City can also provide some guidance on how to set up a recycling business for the community.”

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TOPICS:  Housing

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