13 July 2018

South Africa: Playground for Rats at Redhill Informal Settlement

Residents of KwaMathambo Informal Settlement in Redhill, north of Durban, say they are fed up with living alongside a rat infested illegal dump. The eThekwini municipality collects garbage once a week but without a proper dumping site nearby, residents dump garbage on vacant land across the road from the settlement.

Resident Nomusa Khumalo said, "There were bigs rats running around in the dump and that was not a good site."

In the absence of a playground in the area, children often play on the vacant land where garbage is dumped and the rats breed.

After a query from GroundUp to the municipality this week, the City sent its Health Unit Vector Control team to exterminate the infested area. Residents are happy that something has been done about the rodents, but they still want the area cleaned and the community will plan a cleanup.

"Since they [the health unit] came it has been all clear," said Khumalo. "I am happy that the meeting we had on Wednesday with the ward councillor and the health department was constructive, despite the disappointing turnout from the community. But we will be having another meeting to plan on how we can take our space back."

Ndodeni Dengo, a member of the local committee, said, "This has been long overdue. The councillor gave feedback on a lot of things that we had requested including a play area for the kids.

"In order to keep the area clean, we also agreed that the community need to be educated on how to keep their space tidy. It is our responsibility after all. The follow-up meeting will be to plan a strategy for the clean up. I am so relieved that after so long there is finally hope."

Deputy Head of Communications at eThekwini Municipality Mandla Nsele said, "While attempts are made to reach many of the affected areas, rodents infest sites where there is a rich food source and they are very nomadic in their breeding habits. Therefore, it is not possible to reach all infested areas and we are reliant on the public to inform the municipality when rodents are sighted through lodging complaints.

"The community is encouraged to refrain from illegal dumping of waste and to engage with their community structures to dispose waste in a responsible manner," said Nsele.

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