Rotting waste in the heavily polluted Jukskei River, which flows through Alexandra en route to Hartbeespoort Dam is a health hazard.
Residents, who use it as a dumping site and toilet, said they didn’t have waste and rubbish management in the area.
“The smell of the things that they throw in the river is unbearable” resident Mary Matlala said.
“You cannot even sit in the house with a window open because you can’t get used to the smell. I’ve seen them try to clean it, but it’s going to be a mission to clean it up and a war to keep it clean.
“As long as we have this huge issue of dustbins and dumping sites, we definitely still have a long way to go.”
Wendy Malpage, who runs Bubele Africa nongovernmental organisation, said despite approaching the city, local, provincial and national government, she could not get support from the city for rubbish collection and waste management.
Malpage and some volunteers from the township began cleaning the river in September and they had made progress in the past two months.
However, there were more than 500 bags of rubbish that could roll back to the river should it flood again.
“We’ve been trying to get Pikitup to collect the bags of waste, but there’s no support whatsoever from them,” she said.
Another resident, Adolph Ncube, said: “There are no bins, no toilets, no bin collections and so people use the river as their bins, their sewage, toilets.”