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Metro tasks team to deal with east informal settlement problem

The issues that residents are complaining about include squatters making fires to burn plastic waste and other rubbish that significantly contributes to smoke in the air.

The Tshwane metro has instituted a high-level task team to deal with the recurring issues in the Plastic View, Wolwespruit and Cemetery View informal settlements in the east of Pretoria.

The removal of the land invaders and squatters in the east informal settlements has involved lengthy legal processes that have dragged on for years with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Metro spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the task team met on Tuesday morning, June 12 to craft a comprehensive plan to address the problems plaguing residents around the three informal settlements.

“The city is responding to the issues of open fires that are being started to burn plastic waste and rubbish which significantly contributes to smoke in the area,” said Mashigo.

Noise pollution and illegal dumping were also highlighted as problems that needed urgent attention.

“Drastic action is planned to curb illegal activities taking place in the settlements.”

A man freshens up in the Wolwespruit. Photo: Itumeleng Mokoena

He said as such, the chief of the metro police has been mandated to strengthen by-law enforcement in the area to confiscate illegal goods, particularly alcohol and also respond to any noise disturbance.

“The city is also going to be deploying measures to try and prevent illegal dumping from taking place in the area,” Mashigo said.

He said the city manager has also mandated the team to engage with the respective councillors and identified stakeholders.

“This is to establish if there are proactive joint solutions that can be established with these communities, such that they can assist the city to manage and contain some of the social issues that are arising in some these informal settlements.”

Mashigo said the city is calling upon communities to be part of the solution and “to identify partnerships where we can work proactively”.

He said unfortunately the engagement between the city and the National Department of Home Affairs to get it to deal with the high number of undocumented foreign nationals in these settlements has not been fruitful.

“But work will continue in this regard to pressure Home Affairs to fulfil their institutional obligations.”

Mashigo said the position of the city on the illegal land invasion in Wolwespruit remains unchanged.

“The city intends to proceed with the legal process to facilitate the eviction and removal of the unlawful inhabitants from this land.”

He said Tshwane understands that there is significant frustration over the issues in these settlements.

“We want to assure residents that we are deploying the maximum amount of resources that we can to respond to some of the issues that are arising in these areas,” he concluded.

Illegal dumping at Cemetery View informal settlement. Photo: Itumeleng Mokoena

Rekord previously reported on the complaints of the ratepayers in the neighbouring affluent suburbs demanding the metro take action because it is they that have to bear with air pollution by the squatters.

Founding director of Pretoria east Community Caring Forum (CCF) Deirdré van Helsdingen said the dwellers contaminated the local stream and caused massive air pollution when they burned plastic waste and other hazardous materials.

“The property tax-paying residents cannot open their windows anymore,” she said.

Van Helsdingen said the smoke pollution is unbearable.

Wolwespruit informal settlement dwellers boil water. Photo: Itumeleng Mokoena

A resident of Erasmuskloof, Elaine Battle wrote to Rekord about her frustration with the noise and air pollution from the Wolverspruit settlement.

Battle said her human rights were being violated.

“I live across the road in a complex in Delmas Road, Erasmuskloof Ext 2. Every weekend we have to endure the awful, constant, thudding of loud music from about 20:30 to 03:00. Which obviously comes from a shebeen in the informal settlement as clearly singing and shouting can be heard.

Then there is the constant smog from open wood fires… you immediately have problems with your sinuses and it clearly affects one’s breathing.

“Sinutab has become one’s best friend here, not taking into account the elderly people that have retired and trying to survive without paying extra for medical bills and medicines due to the unbearable smoke coming from Wolwespruit.”

She said she objects whole-heartedly to the illegal informal settlement on a protected wetland.

Battle said the dwellers in Wolwespruit are doing major damage to the water resources using the river as a toilet and laundry.

“Not taking into account the rubble and rubbish that is scattered around, it’s disgusting.

Law-abiding and tax-paying retired folks that have either bought their home or renting and trying to live a peaceful existence without noise, pollution, filth, drunken behaviour and crime have to bear with Wolwespruit on their doorstep.”

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