Land has been a subject of interest amongst black communities since dispossession and is considered one of the most important resources for the survival of our species. Clinical Psychology looks at land as an environment of co-existing organisms which has an impact on the development of plants, animals and humans.
It is a well known fact that the way in which townships are designed is detrimental to people realizing their full potential. The township is characterized by high crime rates, alcohol and substance abuse and poor infrastructure and recently; illegal dumping spaces. What most community members do not know however is that, according to main maps, this land is reserved by the government for recreational facilities such as parks, food gardens and market spaces. The communities use it as dumping sites because the majority is not aware of the main map of their areas and have never seen it before. They just see unused open fields.
Illegal dumping is also a result of unreliable government waste collectors. When waste is not collected, people often resort to dumping it in illegal dumping spaces. Community members say that they cannot stay a whole week with waste in their homes while others, especially in areas such as Orange Farm, will tell you that they don’t even have government provided bins.
Moses Masemola is a 47 year old man living in Drieziek 1, Orange Farm. When the youth in the community went out to raise awareness on why people need to stop dumping at a nearby space, this is what he had to say “We have been using that space for a very long time to dump waste. When it gets too much, Pikitup cleans the area. Where are we supposed to throw waste when we don’t have bins?” Moses asked the young environmentalists. This is a commonly held belief and people seem to think it is acceptable because waste is eventually collected.
According to Stephen “Bra Steve” Mazibuko, a regional supervisor of Pikitup Orange Farm, 1 in 10 youth die by the time they are 18 years due to illegal dumping spaces related illnesses in Orange Farm and workers are not immune either. “The issue of the environment is a very sensitive subject. While the emissions coming from the waste kills 1 out of 10 young people in Orange Farm, the workers themselves get sick and that’s why they always have to have full proper personnel protective equipment (PPE) because the chemicals are very deadly.” says Bra Steve. The chemicals come from the waste as it reacts to the heat of the sun. The most common kind of waste you will find across townships is nappies. Nappies make up most of any dumping space and there’s currently no use for them. They are surprisingly almost always thrown away in large quantities at a time; which suggest that they stay for 2-3 weeks before they were dumped. It is not uncommon to find plastics full of nappies, not only in traditional dumping spaces but in water bridges and open fields.
Illegal dumping has become a norm across the country as more municipalities close down due to allegations of corruption and waste remains uncollected. As this escalates, people resort to dumping on property that is intended for their own community’s development. While there’s an outcry for land in South Africa, a lot of it has been converted into waste lands. The environment has become lethal to the community and the residents are complicit in the making of this weapon by continuing to feed these spaces with waste. If municipalities are not functioning and waste is not collected, who will take care of the land? And who do we hold accountable for the lives of our youth lost because of the waste?
This article was submitted on 16 July 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.