The Tshwane Municipality has obtained an urgent high court order forcing the South African Police Service (SAPS) to assist in enforcing an interdict to stop protesters from interfering with waste collection and disposal in the city.
Judge Pierre Rabie granted an order in the High Court in Pretoria, interdicting protesters from restricting access to six of the municipality’s landfill sites and interrupting the collection, transportation and disposal of waste.
The protesters – apparently former subcontractors who lost their jobs – were also interdicted from harassing, threatening and intimidating contractors, their employees and municipal officials involved in the waste industry.
The SAPS was directed to assist the municipality and the sheriff of the court to enforce the order.
Tshwane’s acting environmental head, Mthobeli Kolisa, said in an affidavit the protesters had effectively and forcefully hijacked the collection, transportation and disposal of waste at all service points within the city by restricting access to landfill sites and preventing contractors from collecting and removing waste.
The waste included food from restaurants, medical waste, dead animals and dangerous electronic and scientific apparatus.
Kolisa said landfill sites were the most important part of the system, especially where certain waste such as carcasses and used medical treatment waste had to be disposed of immediately by being buried under compacted soil.
During protest action, the city’s contractors were threatened and truck drivers violently dispossessed of their trucks, with the loads deposited on public roads to obstruct traffic.
Kolisa said the protesters, who were armed with dangerous weapons, were moving around in large groups, inciting violence.
The metro police were unable to act because of the violence involved and the SAPS, which was best positioned to apprehend the protesters, refused to intervene.
According to Kolisa, contractors were forced to drop rubbish, including rotting waste, at unsuitable places because the protesters targeted landfill sites.
Garbage was piling up throughout the city, he said, and this could result in the breakout of diseases such as malaria and cholera.
Kolisa said the waste collected from restaurants was piling up and could attract snakes, rats and mosquitoes. The unsafe disposal of waste could cause serious health problems to communities near the landfill sites.