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.
"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 contacted 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 16 February.
In February, GroundUp reported on the disagreement between Pikitup and former Jozi@Work employees, who prevented Pikitup from entering Tshepisong to collect garbage. The Jozi@Work contracts ended in December last year.
Muzi Mkhwanazi, spokesperson for Pikitup, said an offer made by the company and city officials was rejected by the Jozi@Work members on 10 January. He said Pikitup had to withdraw its services because of threats of violence during the dispute. Follow up meetings were held on the 9, 16 and 23 February.
He said since 16 February "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@Work employees would be insourced and this process is 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@Work provided the service. "It's fine if they [the City] wanted to get rid of Jozi@Work, but they should have replaced it with something that works," he said.
Both residents said the garbage had attracted rats.