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Anger over recycling business

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“We are being patient and will not rush him into removing the recycling. It is safe here and the accommodation is affordable.”

RISKY BUSINESS: Angry Galeshewe residents yesterday blocked off a street with broken glass bottles. Picture: Danie van der Lith

COMMUNITY members yesterday took matters into their own hands by blockading a street with broken glass bottles and setting tyres alight in protest over piles of recycling material that is stored on a residential premises in Tshangaan Street in Galeshewe.

A number of residents, who complained about snakes, rats and mice invading their homes, threatened to burn the bags of recycling material that are stored on the pavement and inside the yard.

“We have killed numerous snakes that are brown in colour, with yellow heads. The snakes are also moving into Boichoko Primary School across the road. Criminals can use the broken bottles to stab pedestrians and hide behind the mountains of bags containing recycling material,” a resident said.

Disgruntled tenants, who are renting shacks on the same premises, said that they are forced to share their food with mice and cockroaches that have infested their homes.

One tenant, however, said that his landlord is a “good man”. “We are being patient and will not rush him into removing the recycling. It is safe here and the accommodation is affordable.”

Neighbours on the other hand said that their only option is to move out of the area as their pleas are being ignored.

“We cannot tolerate this health hazard any longer. We have given the owner more than enough time to clean the area and still nothing is being done. The situation has been like this for the past three years. We wrote petitions and letters to the municipality and yet still nothing has been done.”

One resident said that a snake almost bit him while he was busy dressing, as it was hiding in his T-shirt.

“A baby staying inside one of the shanties on the premises of the recycling business was bitten on his toe, which became inflamed and swollen. We are not sure what bit him.”

The manager of environmental health services at Sol Plaatje Municipality had requested the owner, on February 22, to clean up the area within seven days and to stop operations.

An Operation Wanya Tsotsi member who lives in the area, said he tried to intervene as everyone was on tenterhooks.

“Throwing broken bottles in the street is damaging the tyres of motorists and cyclists. It also prevents people from going to the shops and children are being prevented from using the road to walk to school. Deliveries to the shops are also being disrupted. The owner of the recycling business makes use of his side gate, so it is only members of the public who are being inconvenienced.”

He added that he had tried to pacify the community, who were threatening to throw the bottles that were lying on the pavement into the yard and to burn the recycling material.

“There are a number of people renting shanties on the premises along with babies and small children. If the recycling is set alight, there could be injury or death. We have tried to convince the owner to remove the health hazard, but despite promises it is still there.”

He indicated that he was forced to move away from the street after four snakes, a range of insects and spiders started nesting in his home.

The local ward councillor, Paddy van Wyk, said that the recycling business was not registered.

“We tried to assist him in finding an alternative venue to store his materials but unfortunately these things take time. We also approached various recycling plants locally as well as in Johannesburg, who indicated that they do not accept broken bottles or such large quantities. The owner said that he did not have money to pay for transport to remove the materials.”

Van Wyk added that several letters were sent to the owner by the municipality, requesting him to remove the materials.

“This is not the first time that the community closed the road because they are up in arms. We have pleaded with the owner to stop collecting materials and bottles in the meantime, but he has not stopped. Some of the tavern owners also dump their empty bottles at his home.”

Van Wyk said that he had received complaints from the nearby church and the principal of Boichoko Primary School as snakes were breeding in the area.

“It is also a fire hazard for the large number of tenants who are living in the shacks on the premises.”