“The municipality is not collecting our rubbish, but they threaten to arrest us if we dump”

Residents say Queenstown is left with only one garbage truck

Photo of a mound of rubish

Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality is struggling to collect rubbish in Queenstown, Eastern Cape. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

By Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

4 April 2019

Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality has been struggling to collect rubbish in Queenstown, Eastern Cape, since last year. This comes after the High Court in Makhanda ordered it in mid-2018 to settle a R21-million debt it owed civil engineers Milowo Trading.

The municipality auctioned off 44 vehicles and other assets in June 2018 to raise the funds. According to community members in Nomzamo location, four garbage trucks were among the vehicles sold. GroundUp has tried for three weeks to get municipal spokesperson Butsha Lali to confirm this.

In September 2018 the municipality was placed under administration.

Community leader Axolile Masiza from Nomzamo said he raised the issue of garbage collection with the municipality and was told it has only one truck to collect rubbish in and around Queenstown.

According to residents, in some areas rubbish is collected once a month, and in other areas only every two months. The Queenstown CBD is also affected.

Residents in Sabatha Dalindyebo, Ezibeleni and Nomzamo location said rubbish is now dumped on open land. Sometimes the community burns it.

Sabatha Dalindyebo community leader Moshekile Fani said that the municipality used to collect rubbish every Thursday. “What frustrates us most is that even though the municipality is not collecting our rubbish, they threaten to arrest us if we dump rubbish on open fields,” said Fani. “What are we supposed to do?”

He said rubbish is put out on the streets in black bags. But when lying around for weeks, dogs tear open the bags.

“Our areas are stinking because of the rubbish. We are ratepayers and I expect my rubbish to be collected every week because when they charge us they include R50 for rubbish collection,” he said.