A group of Imizamo Yethu residents have assembled a voluntary clean-up crew with the aim of restoring some pride in their community.
The Ukuphila Community Clean Up was started in level 4 of the national Covid-19 lockdown by a group who said they had had enough of living surrounded by filth.
Mluleki Mgayi heads up the project and gathered some friends and family to get the clean-up crew up and running.
“We had to listen every day to how we must sanitise and remain clean, but every time you go outside, you see the dirt laying around and that made no sense to me. Our people will always get sick living like this,” he said.
Mr Mgayi managed to get a few black bags, some brooms and spades and then started cleaning, which drew lots of attention.
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, the clean-up crew gathers and splits into teams in order to tackle more of the problem areas in Imizamo Yethu.
“We are not working and neither are we earning a salary from this. We just felt like we needed to do something and stop waiting on people to come here and clean after us. We are the residents who live here and we have to take pride in our area,” Mr Mgayi said.
Another founding member of the clean-up crew, Siwaphiwe Noqa, said they refused to wait for the City of Cape Town to address their cleaning problem, but instead chose to do the job themselves.
“We as the residents have to sit around in this mess while we wait for somebody from council to clean it. We just felt like we can do this and we are doing this,” she said.
She said the idea first came about when donors visited the area to hand out food parcels to the community, but due to the state of the place, many of the donors refused to return in fear of getting sick.
“When these donors stopped coming, we thought we had to do something to clean this area because it was not getting better and now we have made this a norm in our community,” said Ms Noqa, who also serves as the secretary for the crew.
Nomfundo Lita is another resident and parent who jumped on board with the crew.
She wants to ensure that her community is clean and safe for children to live in.
“We started this project to clean our community so that we can live in a clean environment with our kids and our vision is teach people about keeping our streets clean all the time and how to recycle,” she proudly said.
The cleaning crew has gone viral on social media and many living in and around Hout Bay have started to applaud the efforts of the crew and some even offered assistance.
Jo-anne Williams from Hout Bay initially thought it was the council workers pulling off the job, but through social media, she found out they were actually unemployed volunteers.
“For people to be doing such voluntary work during a pandemic is nothing short of amazing. I take my hat off to these people for taking such pride in their community,” she said.
Ms Williams regularly donates black bags and other cleaning utensils, but called on Hout Bay to support the crew in their time of need.
“There are so many other communities who can learn a thing or two about this clean-up crew, simply because they are a bunch of locals who decided to take pride in their community,” Ms Williams said.
Mr Mgayi said the crew was only growing larger by the day and since starting the project, he already has over 50 volunteers.
“I want to get more involved, in fact, if I can get our whole community on board, IY will never be dirty again. All we want is a clean community to live in and it starts with all of us who live here,” Mr Mgayi said.
The Ukuphila Community Clean Up crew are still in need of some more cleaning resources such as bags, gloves, masks and brooms. Anybody willing to assist the crew can contact Mr Mgayi on 078 159 2155.