Imizamo Yethu residents have questioned how being on lockdown in a community swamped with garbage is meant to protect them from Covid-19.
Mounds of rubbish line the streets from the top to the bottom of IY, mostly domestic waste, old furniture, rotting food, rubble and even the odd car part or two.
Daniel Bathonga has three dumping spots around his IY home, attracting flies and rats, but he said he had no option but to be locked down in those conditions.
“The president has said we should all remain behind closed doors, but what about those living in our conditions and those who cannot afford medicines and things to protect us?” he asked, watching yet another family adding to one of the mounds of rubbish near his home.
Alicia Mohomba lives in the neighbouring street. This grandmother lives with four children in her two-bedroom home, which is less than 50 away from another dump site.
She said it became “unbearable” at times.
“There were days when rotten meat was dumped there and that smell took over our homes and the whole area. The flies were everywhere, but we had to soldier through it all and live. Now we are locked up in these conditions.”
She blames the community for the problem, saying there are efforts to clean the neighbourhood, but people continue to dump illegally.
“This is a very bad time to be dumping and living unhealthy. We have a virus out there, Corona is real,” Ms Mohomba said.
According to the City of Cape Town, problem sites in the area are cleaned daily, but rubbish returns within hours. “The City clears in the morning, and the area is the same within 12 hours or less,” said ward councillor Roberto Quintas.
Both cleansing and sweeping were part of the City’s daily routine in the area, and IY had enough skips and refuse-collection points, he said.
“It appears that for many residents, it is easier to dump on the nearest corner as opposed to walking a block.”
Mr Quintas acknowledged those residents who were doing their bit to keep the community clean, and he referred to the landscaping and flowers at the entrance to the old library.
“The community there maintain the space and ensure no one dumps there anymore. It is possible to overcome the dumping culture, with community cooperation. In the meantime, the City will continue to play its part, and continue to clean and clear,” Mr Quintas said.
City refuse and sanitation staff were essential workers and would continue to work during the lockdown, he noted.