| We are living in a pigsty, says ward councillor

Residents of Tshepisong West, an informal settlement west of Johannesburg, say garbage has only been collected twice in the area in the past four months.

Ward councillor Sylvia Monakale (ANC) said both times she had to call Pikitup, the waste removal entity of the City of Johannesburg, to come and collect refuse bags after members of the community had cleaned up the area themselves, reports.

“The City has failed to service Tshepisong and Tshepisong West. They do not care about us. We are living in a pigsty here,” said Monakale. She said she had ed mayoral committee member Nico de Jager (DA) in May, but had received no response.

She said she had asked Pikitup area manager from the Zondi depot for plastic bags, gloves and masks for a community-led clean-up campaign. Pikitup said it was under-resourced and could only provide plastic bags.

Pikitup, however, flatly denies that it hasn‘t conducted garbage collection and says it has been providing the service weekly since February 16.

In February, GroundUp reported on the disagreement between Pikitup and former Jozi employees, who prevented Pikitup from entering Tshepisong to collect garbage. The Jozi contracts ended in December last year.

‘We are tired of fighting for our basic rights‘

Muzi Mkhwanazi, spokesperson for Pikitup, said an offer made by the company and City officials was rejected by the Jozi members on January 10. He said Pikitup had to withdraw its services because of threats of violence during the dispute. Follow up meetings were held on February 9, 16 and 23.

He said since February 16 “refuse collection has been completed every week, either on the scheduled day or on the rare occasion of a breakdown, the following day. Illegal dumping collection has been continuing as scheduled once every 13 days. For 11 days between 8 and 23 March 2018, dedicated illegal dumping resources were allocated to this area to assist with backlogs and have since then reverted back to once every 13 days.”

He said former Jozi employees would be insourced and this process was underway.

GroundUp visited five illegal dumping sites. Some of them are located near food vendors and shops. People were digging through the stinking garbage for recyclable materials.

Walter Ramphaka has lived in Tshepisong West for 18 years.

“We had to fight to get electricity; we had to fight to get a tar road. We are so tired of fighting for our basic rights. We cannot live like this. It‘s not like this in the suburbs. You can only see this in our townships,” said Ramphaka.

Another resident, Hector van Wyk, said things were better when Jozi provided the service.

“It‘s fine if they (the City) wanted to get rid of Jozi, but they should have replaced it with something that works,” he said.

Both residents said the garbage had attracted rats.

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