Hillcrest online protest against Enviroserv

After members of the Upper highway community launched a petition on change.org they took to various social media platforms to gain public support. They started a Facebook page titled: “Upper Highway- what’s that smell?” as well as a website, http://www.upperhighwayair.com.

It is on these to mediums where residents share their complaints and grievances, here are a few.

Resident Jenny Gevers posted on 12 September 2017 saying: “Well the winter reprieve from Enviroserv’s stench is definitely over. We’ve reported 5 times in the last 4 days – multiple times on one day. With the spring and summer wind patterns we’re once again subjected to this vile gas! Keep reporting everyone or this sinkhole will just reopen as is and we’ll have to start from scratch again!!”

On the 28th May Robynne Paul Lott posted: “I have reported four times today in four different places. This smell is causing a lot of stress, anxiety, worry and ill-health for an obvious small number of people by the comments on this FB page since the last report came out. This truly concerns me. Where is everyone, has everyone given up the fight, going to sit down with complacency and accept that we are systematically being poisoned by greedy power-seeking idiots. We need money and reporting more than ever now. The NPO can’t do it all on their own. What about us taking and making a stand with the DEA for them to exercise authority over EnviroServ. Should be a state of emergency, if that can be done with something like this.”

Leslie Conlon posted on the 10th of September: “Just for the record, at 09:57pm last night I reported one of the worst stench invasions I have experienced in a long time. The air was so thick I could almost see it. This is not just the cool air settling after a hot day of gases rising or whatever the geological/climate-ological explanation might be, this is the hazardous dump pumping. Absolutely no improvement from whatever remedial action ES may have taken, and after last night I can honestly say this is getting worse.”

Other active protesters have alleged that they have been receiving threats form unknown sources.

Patrick Davison posted on the 10th of September: “Last week I received an SMS from an unknown person. It was the type of message that I thought I would never receive. Simply put it made false accusations about my personal and professional life, it also contained a blatant threat to my safety. Among other accusations it accused me of being an Envirovenger and that they were infringing the privacy of certain individuals. I can state that I am not part of any Envirovenger group, however I do have very strong opinions on the EnviroServ issue. Clearly this entire issue has taken a dramatic turn with the introduction of a third force and the playing fields have shifted. You can deal with a threat of this nature in two ways, either choose to go low profile or alternatively refuse to be intimidated. I have decided as a parent to always protect my children and I honestly feel that EnviroServ are attacking all our kids on a daily basis and as such it is my duty to protect them. This matter has been reported to the authorities and legal counsel. I ask that we remain unified in this fight and refuse to be threatened or bullied. This was particularly upsetting for me and my family but there is a greater battle to win, one that effects each and every one of us, so now is the time to rise as one regardless of gender, age or race and stand firm.”

On top of escalating legal costs and dwindling revenue, Enviroserv is not the only business suffering from the stink. In Hillcrest, the plushy suburb, businesses like restaurants have complained of the smell and its creation of an uncomfortable ambience for their customers.
On a relatively smaller scale, a different kind of business effect has emerged from Enviroserv’s dodgy practices; a woman from KwaNdengezi, Nomathemba Ngcobo, said that children sell infested fish they retrieve from a dam near the landfill site.
In a documentary about Enviroserv, aired by 50/50, two local fishermen were recorded cleaning discarded meat they had found from the enviroserv landfill. The men admitted to doing this on a regular basis and sometimes they use it to feed their families or sell it off to the locals.
“I know I’m putting myself at risk by going into the site but I’m desperate. I’m planning to cook this meat and sell it in KwaNdengezi. In this way I can support my three children,” one of the man said.
In September 2016, eNCA televised a community meeting between residents from the affected areas, the eThekwini Municipality and the stakeholders from enviroserv. One fisherman said that they sell fish and stews in their communities but they are concerned that they may be selling poisonous products to their customers.
“I spearfish (in the polluted river). We use that money to make some pocket money for ourselves. We selling these things, we eat these things. How do we know were not selling poison to our own people.”

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Mkhize The Change Agent For Umlazi

“If you build a house, you do build it for yourself. If you build a school, you build it for your community.”

Some might say that Muzokhanyanyo Reginald Mkhize was inspired by those words when he built his now iconic Las Vegas Primary School, which opened it’s doors in 1993. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, his story is much more than a dream made out of a mantra.

“I had never heard of that (qoute) when the idea of starting a creche first hit me, it was around 1991,” said Mkhize.

But before there was Las Vegas, there was a dream.

As a youngstar, Mkhize left his home in Ulundi, Northern KwaZulu Natal, to Umlazi in pursuit of his dream of being a mechanical engineer. He finished grade 12 at age 27 and did some engineering courses, which he completed earlier than expected. He achieved his dream of being an engineer when he joined Engen but it was short lived.

Two years into his arrival at Engen, he caught fire at work and was burnt. When he realised he couldn’t work anymore he knew he needed another way to survive.

“That’s how the idea of starting a pre-school came about. But to simply build a pre-school would be a short term solution. I needed something different so I decided to start the first school of it’s kind in Umlazi, that had English as the first language. I did it to provide for my family,” he concluded.

Las Vegas has not only changed his family’s life however, the whole Umlazi J section community is benefiting.

“Mr Mkhize has brought jobs to the community. School kids wash Las Vegas cars for pocket money and when he is building or needs artisan skills he employs those from the community,” said Gloria Mthembu, his neighbour.

Nkosikhona Cele, a driver at Las Vegas, says he owes a lot to Mr Mkhize.

“I was just a drop out when he took me. He helped me get a licence then I was hired as his driver. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for him,” said Cele.

Simphiwe Shozi, a community member whose son is schooling at Las Vegas, praises his innovation and influence.

“He took the model c education to the black township way before anyone could even think of anything like it. Growing up we didn’t have to look further for role models, we all wanted to be like Mr Mkhize,” he said.

Is This What We Really Fought For? White Rule Ends, Black Poverty Goes On: A book review

Bob, Myers. Is This What We Really Fought For? White Rule Ends, Black Poverty Goes On.

In this second book in his series, Bob Myers delivers an alternative account and perspective at a critical period in the South African political landscape. The author looks at the liberation movement and the subsequent transition to democracy from the workers and trade unions’ point of view at a critical period in the South African political landscape. In reviewing this book, the principal focus included evaluating the organisation, the range of coverage, the content, the selection and interpretation of evidence and The theoretical approach.

The organization of the book Is This What We Really Fought For? allows the reader to follow the events of the other side of the transition to democracy, the side without the fairytale story we’ve been sold for tears. The book is divided into three chapters, all with a number of topics under them, made by the “three pamphlets distributed by the revolutionary trade unionists from the Durban area: The cause of the violence in South Africa and how to stop it (1992); Why the government of National Unity will attack the workers (1993); How can we solve our problems? Through capitalism or socialism? (1997),” (cover p.).

As he did in the first book of this series titled Revolutionary Times, Revolutionary Lives, the author used a chronological range of coverage for this edition. The book follows, but not limited to, a series of events that occurred over a period of five years, between 1992 to 1997. The author covered everything that occurred during this period in a chronological order but he was flexible enough to delve into the 1980’s inorder to incorporate relevant events for context purposes.

When it comes to the content of this book, the name Is This What We Really Fought For? White Rule Ends, Black Poverty Goes On sums it up nicely. In the book, Myers shows his dissatisfaction with the reality of the middle class workers and lack of confidence in the idea of national unity with the capitalist government. From outlining what he believes is the real “cause of violence in South Africa”(p5-p30), his take on the “government of national unity” negotiations (p31-66) through to how he believes “we can solve our problems” (p67-104), Myers takes the reader on journey of a black middle class worker in the early to mid 1990’s with his detailed critical analysis that recent history is starting to judge favourably as the failings of the African National Congress is exposed almost daily by our maturing politics.

The only drawback I found in this book is that the evidence the author chose are only those that conforms with his arguments for socialism. Those arguments includes the letters of the workers from both South Africa and abroad, that the second chapter is primarily dedicated to, including the one from the Iranian oil workers (p.59-62), some admitions in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Goldstone Commission, with one example illustrating that “the Goldstone Commission provided the evidence that the violence in the country was organised by people within the police and army,” (p11). Though these selections are true and are interpreted perfectly and in line with the context of the book, I’m dissappointed the author did not even attempt to seek balance via a counter argument. But then again, it’s important to note that the author is not compelled to counter his own arguments and this doesn’t diminish the credibility of the book In the slightest sense.

The theoretical approach of this book is different from what I’m used to in that the book Is written from the workers and socialist trade unions’ perspective. It also openly favoured socialism over capitalism in a time when the capitalistic ANC was praised all over the world for their work.

All in all, the book Is This What We Really Fought For? White Rule Ends, Black Poverty Goes On is a good read. For those interested in knowing the real events that took place during those crucial years between 1992 and 1997 that had such a bearing in the reality we live today, rather than the good-story we are subjected to everyday, than this book is for you. I’d also recommend it to both the teachers and students who seek an alternative view of the accounts of this period.

“Opposition Parties Need Political Advice”

By Nwabiso Dlamini

The state of politics in South Africa at the moment is unpredictable. The African National Congress which is in power at the moment is being ganged up by opposition parties. Every decision that is taken by ANC, opposition parties always provoke the judgment.

Lately the Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane proposed that Jacob Zuma should be voted out by a vote of no confidence.

Maimane’s proposal received huge support by other oppositional parties, including the EFF, FFP and COPE. All the opposition parties in Parliament thought a vote of no confidence would be enough to get Zuma off from the presidential seat.

If the opposition parties adhere consultation from political expertise it would be useful to consider one. Political parties like DA and EFF should collaborate and take advice from experts before jumping to conclusion in political matters. If Maimane acquired consultation before revealing his idea to the National Assembly, maybe it would have been better.

Opposition parties should use the skills and experience of political analyst like Prof. Steven Friedman and Tinyiko Maluleke those are the people who have been around the field. Consulting an expert in politics will spare some embarrassment for the opposition parties in parliament. The time is now it would not help the parties to have leaders that are authoritarian, who do not communicate with other members of the party. The DA has proven that they’re power hungry, they want election to be held early so they’ll get ANC out of power. Its very clear that the DA will do anything in their power to get rid of the ANC government.

Once the political expert and the party has reached proviso about a certain issue then things won’t be the same as looking at one angle. It was crystal clear that ANC members won’t side with opposition in their quest to reshuffle Zuma. The opposition parties took this matter by heart and didn’t analyzed it at a third eye of perspective. Some decision that are made by opposition parties may sometimes be resolved through consultation not by the speaker of Parliament. The African National Congress seem to be united on the fore front, before that voting in Parliament ANC members were edged not vote against Zuma.

 

Enviroserv leachate has the community in distress

For years, a foul stench has loomed over the rural community of Shongweni, which neighbours the landfill site, Enviroserv.

After repeated attempts attempts by Enviroserv denying being the primary cause of the smell, countless protests and petitions there seems to be no end in sight for Shongweni residents.

Security guard at the Edamini Primary School, Thulebona Ntuli (59) who lives in Ngqopheni, an area situated very close to the site, has resigned himself to the smell.

“Everyday I smell it, we (the people residing in Ngqopheni) have got used to it because it is very strong on our side,” he said.

“I heard it was going to go away but it has not. It does not necessarily affect me, it is just something that is there. I can’t do anything about it.”

Earlier this year, the community staged a march to Enviroserv and multiple people confirmed that the company promised the smell will go away.

Instead the foul odour has fluctuated, residents say they can smell it at nights and when it’s very hot. Also, on the day after a strong rainfall, the odour is very strong.

Yet not all residents think the smell is as severe as it made out to be. Thabile Maphumulo, who manages a Spaza shop near the primary school, says there is no smell and that some people are overreacting.

“There is no smell, if they say they can smell it then they are lying. Personally I haven’t smelt anything and it does not affect me or my business,” she said.

Maphumulo, whose Spaza shop sells amongst other things, fried chips and vetkoeks, says the landfill site has no direct affect to her business.

Maphumulo does acknowledge that there is a smell when driving past the site but that is normal she argues.

Shongweni residents who commute daily to work whether in the factory town of Pinetown or the neighbouring suburb of Hillcrest, have to endure the smell to and from work.

(Having taken a taxi to Shongweni, past Enviroserv, we can confirm there is a strong smell when going past the site)

Last year the Department of Environmental Affairs ordered Enviroserv to discharge its leachate (percolated liquid waste) to an off-site to alleviate the smell off Shongweni, since then Enviroserv has been transporting its leachate by truck to a waste site in Johannesburg.
In court papers, obtained by Noseweek, Enviroserv filed an interdict with the Gauteng High Court to reverse the DEA’s decision and instead allow Enviroserv to tanker (transport by ship) its leachate to the Southern Waste Water Treatment Works, citing an “environmental disaster” if not allowed to do so.
The transporting of waste to Johannesburg has hurt Enviroserv’s bottom line and production capability.
Despite their revenue taking a hit, Enviroserv has committed to giving back to the community of Shongweni through their Corporate Social Initiatives.

According to the site’s website, during the 2015 – 2016 financial year, the company implemented leanerships for fifty-five unemployed people and in 2017 enrolled eighty unemployed people to partake in a Business Admin Level 2 learnership.
All these people were from the communities they operate in nationally, including Shongweni.
This was corroborated by Nonhle Ntuli (29), an Adult Basic Education Training student, attending at the Edamini Primary School.
““There is no smell, Enviroserv helps out, they help us a lot, there are learnerships and (scholarships) here and in the other school,” she said.

Ntuli sang Enviroserv’s praises, further adding, “They also provide work. The learnerships have been going on for around two months now.”
Although the timeline clashes with the one on Enviroserv’s timeline, there is credence to the company’s CSI.
Ntuli did acknowledge there used to be a foul odour but says she does not smell it anymore bar when it’s hot or the day after heavy downpour.
Principal of the Edamini Primary School, Alfred Ntinga said there had been no reported incident from his students regarding any sicknesses that would result from the stench.
““Community members living around here are affected most by the smell at night. I do not live around here. An expert would better identify with what chemicals are most harmful,” he said.

While in Hillcrest, there has been many reported incidents of children getting sick due to the harmful gas emanating from the site.

Durban youth tournament cancelled due to withdrawal of government funding

The KZN Academy and the South African Football Association held a media briefing on Friday, on which it was revealed that this year’s edition of the Durban under 19 Football tournament has been cancelled after the KwaZulu Natal government pulled out it’s funding at the last minute.

Carlos Catalino, KZN academy CEO and chief organiser, said the tournament was cancelled because the department of Sport said the tournament will only be sponsored if it adds six academies from KZN teams who play in the PSL and the National First Division.

“The department of sports wanted us to add six academies of KZN teams playing in the top two tiers but arrangements couldn’t be completed since the promised sponsorship money was reduced from last year. We asked for more but they couldn’t grant us.

We held meetings that included SAFA president Dr. Danny Jordaan, MEC Sihle Zikalala and we tried to talk with the Minister of Sports. But after an agreement with Dr. Jordaan, we couldn’t reach the MEC and those in charge said their hands were tied.”

Siyabonga Ntshingila from the KZN Department of Sport and Recreation, said that it’s the department’s mandate to protect the interests of KZN teams.

“As KZN department of sports we have a duty to the development of football in KZN, not to sponsor overseas teams that are owned by multi-million rand owners. We’ve been happy to sponsor the Durban youth cup since it’s inception, but we thought it was about time KZN teams gets a slice of the pie.”

KZN academy captain, Philani Khumalo, also expressed the team’s disappointment at the cancellation of the tournament. He said the Durban U19 international tournament is exactly what the country’s football development needs and the SAFA team was ready for it.

“Our teams were in preparation for the tournament. This is the only way that we can really step up to the plate internationally and start doing better in international competitions is by playing international tournaments and pitting ourselves against the best youngsters in the world.”

Ayanda Nyuswa, sports analyst for Radio DUT, said that it happened during apartheid that the government dictated who to play with or against in order to grant you sponsorship.

“Somebody is going to miss out here simply because of the pulling of funds from this tournament. It is a huge disappointment. I see this going back to the past, are we going back to the apartheid days when we have government interfering in sport, where they will tell you who to play before you get funding? For me this seems to be the case. It is just so unfortunate because this is a SAFA project for the benefit of our country, for the poor footballers that come from rural areas.”

In four years, the KZN academy has produced more players who now play professionally in the PSL, Portugal, Germany and both senior and junior national teams.

Palm Bay tenants wants a working lift before and of August

The residents of Palm Bay have given the the flat owners until the end of August to get the lift of the flat up and running again.

The residents were in a meeting with the owners of the flat on Friday, a meeting they had been asking for since June. The issue on the agenda was the lift that has not been working for eight months.

The meeting had to start later than planned because one of the owners, Sipho Sithole, was running late while co-owner, Ian Dlamini, had to cancel because of an emergency at home. By the time he came the crowd had already started voicing their dissatisfaction to the supervisor.

Sithole apologised and then got straight to the agenda of the day, explaining why the lifts were taking longer to fix and assured the residents that they would be working in less than three months

“We hired a company who made us a quotation and gave us a timeframe of the whole project. They said the lift would be ready to work by February but they came back in December saying they can’t meet their own deadline. That’s when we decided to just replace all the cables with new ones rather than having to fix it every now and again. We’re looking to have the lifts up and running by October.”

The residents made it clear that they couldn’t wait that long.

Mr. Ndlovu said while he understands why the owners did it, he felt disrespected by the fact that owners made this decisions without consulting them.

“In as much as what you did makes sense, I still don’t understand how you could make such decisions with speaking to us, who are affected by this lift everyday, first. Meanwhile we’re expected to pay the full rent while getting half the services.”

Miss Mshengu, from the 11th floor, said she was ready to live Palm Bay if this continued.

“This has been going on since last year yet we still pay the same rent, only stayed here because I’d already settled but I can’t take another three months of this.”

After a lot of heated arguing, the residents said all efforts should go towards fixing one lift before the end of August otherwise they’re leaving month end, and they were not willing to hear anything else.

Words Speaks Louder Than Action