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.”