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Tuesday, November 24, 2020
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Bonteheuwel school grounds used as illegal dumping site

Barbara Maregele

Charred rubble, shards of glass, tattered clothing and dirty nappies are some of the items dumped on an open strip of land belonging to Arcadia Primary School in Bonteheuwel.

Despite efforts by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and the local ward councillor, people continue to illegally dump rubble and vandalise the security fences around the area.

Deputy principal Suleiman Stanley says learners often have to walk through the dirt to get into the school grounds, which is a health and safety concern. “People burn scrap for copper right next to our gates and the smoke comes into the school on a daily basis. The City Council cleaned the area before school ended last year but look, the rubbish just piled up again, with people from around here using this as a dump site.”

Stanley, who has worked at the school since 1990, says it wasn’t until four years ago that they discovered that the piece of land belonged to the school.

“People have always used that space as a walkway. Whenever the WCED visited, they always asked why our grounds were so small for the amount of learners we had. Now we realise that the school grounds are actually bigger, so we can expand,” he says.

WCED spokesperson Millicent Merton confirmed that a fence erected in August 2016 had been vandalised during the school holidays four months later.

Stanley says new black fencing at a cost of R1 million was erected around the larger school perimeter in 2016. “The guys came and cut pieces of the gate so they could walk and drive their cars through again to the soccer field. The new motor on our front gate was also smashed and parts stolen.

“Law enforcement is based in Bonteheuwel, so they can’t say they aren’t aware of this. I saw the guys being fined when school started but that was it,” says Stanley.

He says because the school is situated where most of the gang shootings occur, it is important to use the space to make it safer for the learners at school. He says it is up to the community to take pride in the area.

Bonteheuwel ward councillor Angus McKenzie says he sometimes sent trucks and municipal workers to help the school clear the property, though that was not the City’s responsibility. “The City in most cases does not clean land that does not belong to it. There’s a privately-run dumping site a kilometre from the school and a City facility about 3 km away. It boils down to attitude. Our greatest challenge here is our attitudes,” he says.

Information about the City of Cape Town’s recycling and waste drop-off facilities is in its website.

Published originally on GroundUp.

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