News / Opinion / Columns
Jaco Van Der Merwe
I couldn’t help but notice the dozens of heaps of building rubble shamelessly dumped on either side of the road.
“How appalling?” I thought to myself.
One of these heaps was even next to the pole holding up the warning sign proclaiming that an illegal dumper will be fined R1,000.
I was making my way to a landfill site in Dobsonville as I couldn’t take my building rubble to my usual garden refuse depot in Fairlands. There are strict rules regarding the disposal of rubbish as clearly stipulated on the signage inside the depot.
No more than two buckets of building rubble are allowed in the two containers dedicated for that purpose, which is about six bricks and two spadefuls of sand.
With my half-tonner bakkie’s loadbox filled to the brim with bricks and gravel left over from a little weekend building project, I skipped straight past Fairlands in seeking out Dobsonville.
Very relieved to see that the landfill site was open for business similar to the garden refuse tips, I was stopped by a uniformed employee at the gate. “Do you have an account?” he wanted to know.
Account? I can’t recall ever being asked that question by the garden refuse gate guards. I thought it was a free service provided by the municipality for taxpaying citizens. It’s not like I’m a contractor removing rubble for a living.
“You see, sir, if it’s for private disposal it will be free, but you must apply for an account first. They will only be able to assist you on Monday and you must complete and return these forms,” he said as he handed me the documents.
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Four pages! An exercise that started as time-consuming was about to get complicated and costly, too. Two round trips from my house to Dobsonville are not cheap if you take our bloated fuel price into consideration.
I pleaded with him to give me a gap, offering to send the forms on the Monday in return for the immediate disposal of my rubble. He refused to budge.
Instead, he was quick with an alternative suggestion. “You see that guy there?” he said as he pointed to a man lurking behind a boundary wall. “He will sort you out. In return for a Coke.”
I’m not proud to admit that I reluctantly took his offer to avoid further hassle.
The gate guard gave the lurking man the nod, who then asked me to take a dirt track along the outside of the landfill site’s boundary wall. Two other gentlemen joined the first one on the back of my bakkie as they directed me deeper into dodginess to eventually stop right next to the gigantic mine heap towering over the landfill site.
Trembling now with outright fear for my own safety in situation that almost felt surreal, I watched the three offload the bakkie like trained professionals. One even brushed off the remaining dust with his bare hand and even seemed proud to present such a clean loadbox.
So relieved with their efficient “service” – and the fact that I was unharmed with my earthly possessions in tact – their reward was enough for a whole case of Coke.
On the way home I started regretting my decision. But then the little rubble heaps gave me a reality check.
I had a much better understanding of things now. I tried playing by the book, but the system wouldn’t allow me. I started wondering how many of those dozens of illegal dumpers also started out with the best of intentions?
My fellow illegal dumpers, I should add.
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