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Meet the visionary behind the Community Cleaners

Driven by the rubbish plaguing the community, Andre Swanepoel took it upon himself to create the Community Cleaners, a group dedicated to restoring parks to their natural beauty.

In a world where illegal dumping and environmental negligence have become all too common, one individual decided to take matters into their own hands. Meet André Swanepoel, the visionary behind the Community Cleaners, a group dedicated to transforming local parks and combating the issue of illegal dumping.

Three years ago, Swanepoel embarked on a mission to restore the natural beauty of his community’s parks. Armed with the belief that a clean environment fosters a sense of pride and respect, Swanepoel rallied a group of like-minded individuals. Comprising housewives, business people, and pensioners, the Community Cleaners set out to make a difference, park by park.

Read more: Fed up with illegal dumping

“Our first project took us to Fairlands Koppie, where we encountered a shocking scene of litter and rampant crime.”
Undeterred, the Community Cleaners rolled up their sleeves and began the task of cleaning up the area. In just one month, they removed a staggering four metric tonnes of rubbish, breathing new life into the park.

Swanepoel’s commitment to addressing the issue of illegal dumping goes beyond cleaning up the mess. Aware that prevention is key, he encourages community members to report incidents of illegal dumping to the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD). Although the group remains uncertain about the effectiveness of these reports, they continue to document and report cases in the hope of curbing this detrimental behaviour.

The Community Cleaners have encountered numerous challenges along the way. “Parks have been desecrated by acts of vandalism and used as makeshift toilets, revealing a troubling disregard for the environment. However, we remain undeterred, actively seeking out clues amid the litter to identify and publicly shame those responsible for illegal dumping.”

Also read: Councillors fight continues against illegal dumping continues

The success of the Community Cleaners can be attributed to the snowball effect. As more people witnessed the positive impact of their work, the group gained momentum and attracted additional volunteers. Donations from the community have also played a crucial role in supporting their efforts, with individuals generously contributing equipment and funds to aid in clean-up operations.

Swanepoel’s vision extends beyond the Community Cleaners. He envisions a collaborative approach, uniting organisations who has the same vision for the community as him to create a comprehensive cleaning initiative. By working together as a united entity, Swanepoel believes they can tackle the persistent issue of illegal dumping and foster a stronger sense of community pride.

Swanepoel and the Community Cleaners emphasise the power of community-driven initiatives. Through their tireless efforts, they have shown that change starts at the grass-roots level and that a cleaner, healthier environment is within reach when individuals come together with a shared purpose.

Related article: Illegal dumping impoundment fees to increase

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