Government’s intervention vital in the waste industry

Picture 2

Press
release                                                                                     November
2018

Government’s intervention vital in the waste industry

Community
activists are calling for government to intervene in the waste pickers
industry. The community of Thulani Snake Park informal settlement in Soweto
wants the government to regulate the industry by protecting waste pickers and
thus allow the community to make a meaningful living from collecting waste.

“Residing
in a community that is contaminated by mine waste radioactivity is not easy for
the people of Thulani Snake Park, as this causes health hazards and endangers
our livelihoods. People around the area are now making a living as waste
pickers to survive” says community member and activist Thokozile Mntambo.

Picking
up waste has allowed the community to make money from recycling, thereby
ensuring that they can pay for electricity, paraffin and food.

Waste
picking is not covered by any type of legislation or policy, and waste
management policies in South Africa cover only the formal waste sector.

“It is hard for women waste pickers as they need to wake up early  and walk long distance pushing a trolley to get items like metal scrap and plastic bottles for recycling” says Mntambo. In the suburban areas’ women waste pickers get labelled with derogatory names such as “bomalala pipes” while security guards also chase them away from picking up waste.

“Waste
pickers also do not get enough money from waste collection because the scrap
yard does not pay much, especially when the scale is small,” continued Mntambo.

A
2017 report by Department of Science and Technology through the National
Research Foundation’s Centre of Excellence in Food Security found that on
average waste pickers made between R290 to R 770 a week from the waste they
collect.

In
Thulani Snake Park, some of the waste pickers are drug addicts, who use the
returns from selling scrap metal to feed their addiction. This contributes to
the dangers faced by women waste pickers who are exposed to intimidation by
these addicts.

“The
Thulani Snake Park community is calling on government to formulate policies
that will ensure that they are recognisedas an informal sector,and to stop the
municipality from privatising the waste picking sector,” concludes Mntambo

NOTE
TO EDITORS:
The Ubumbano Community Voice website and application is a
platform for community activists in Southern Africa to share stories of their
struggles for dignity and justice, and for journalists and others to get direct
access to those stories. It is supported by the ACT Alliance, a global
coalition of faith-based organisations.

FOR
MORE INFORMATION AND INTERVIEWS CONTACT:

Nhlanhla Kubeka

frayintermedia: Account manager

Tel: +27 11 888 0140

Cell: +27 79 847 897

Email: nkubeka@frayintermedia.com

Thokozile Mntambo

Thulani Snake Park community activist

Cell: +27 65 326 4565

Ashely Green-Thompson

ACT Ubumbano: Change Manager

Cell: +27 83 442 4497

Email: AGreen-Thompson@christian-aid.org

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