The solution to keeping the city clean starts with you

By now, most citizens of Mbombela are aware of the crisis forcing the city’s nature reserves to their knees.

“We have been trying for over a year to get this done and we will not stop until we have managed,” he said.

“It is very easy to identify these issues within the first five minutes walking in the reserve, but to find a solution is easier said than done,” said Erasmus. He is offering to manage these reserves, but needs funding.

He claimed that he received permission to manage and control the reserves from the City of Mbombela Local Municipality, but was told to find his own funding.

Also read: How to report a case of suspected illegal dumping

Aloes which have allegedly been harvested illegally in one of the local city based nature reserves.

The main problems that he identified are: pollution, snares, invasive plants, safety, illegal dumping and rubbish, illegal bush camps, trails that are overgrown and illegal plant collecting.

He observed that sewage is running from overflowing manholes straight into the water streams. “These streams eventually flow into rivers and are destroying a lot of plants and habitat for animals. The sewage is also destroying the ecosystem for frogs, crickets and other small animals. The water is toxic and has turned black from pollution.”

“A constant control and evaluation of the reserve will make it possible to identify sewage and overflowing manholes to be reported directly to Sembcorp. If there is nobody to check these issues, then they can’t be resolved.”

Erasmus added that snares and other traps are set for small animals and eventually catch dogs and cats. Because of this, it is a massive threat to grey and red duikers as well as porcupines and genets.

A whole team specifically focusing on snares and traps will enter the reserves on a daily basis.

Also read: Letter: resident angered by illegal dumping in town

Household sewerage and run-off collecting in a section of the Nelspruit Nature reserve.

“We will be getting help from nature studies students and permanent employees passionate about protecting nature,” he said.

Snares will be removed and resident animals, as well as stray cats and dogs. will no longer be caught in them.
“Exotic plants are invading and taking over the entire ecosystem. Plants like lantana, flame thorn and sandpaper raisin, are encroaching on the entire reserve and destroy the habitat for others,” he said.

He added that safety is a big concern in every reserve in Mbombela.

“It is incredibly unsafe for anyone to go into these areas, making a simple thing like a picnic impossible. More often than not, many visitors will find empty handbags as well as other stolen items on the grass in these places. There have been many reports of theft, mugging, physical attacks and even rape in the reserves,” Erasmus said.

His solution is involving ACS Security, that has already agreed to help with proper security control. Guards will be posted at entrances to monitor any alleged criminals entering the reserves. These guards will also do fence patrols to check for possible entries.

Another concern is rubbish and residents bordering the reserve, who dump trash and building rubble over their walls and into the reserves. “Used condoms, beer bottles and plastic are everywhere,” he said, and added that a number of homeless people as well as criminals reside in these reserves.

Also read: Dumping remains a persistent issue in Mbombela

“A huge number of break-ins occurs close to these areas because of this aspect.”

Mvelo Bin Hire has agreed to rent out some garbage skips to dump the removed snares, rubbish and plants in.

Security will also monitor any activity for illegal bush camps and will remove any camps found.

“This will also make the neighbourhood and reserve a lot safer.”

Some of the walking trails are completely overgrown and impossible to walk on. “There is no control over this, and the pathways are not viable anymore.”

Another issue destroying the reserve is the illegal collection of plants. “Aloes are constantly removed and sold illegally.”

Also read: Residents take dumping matters into their own hands

A team will also focus on invasive plants. “They will be identified and removed. We also paint the cut branches with diesel to prevent them from growing again,” Erasmus said.

“We will also be sure to acquire the services of someone who will be able to fix all broken pavements and benches in the reserves. This will make it possible for people to still enjoy these beautiful natural areas.”

“These issues are destroying our reserves and will completely ruin the one thing that makes Mbombela a beautiful place.”

“Unfortunately, nothing is free. That is why we need funding to fix this problem. All the solutions that I put down will cost money, so we need an amount of R25 000 per month for the project to have a sustainable and constant control,” he concluded.

Dean Erasmus can be contacted on 071-674-8546.

Stefan de Villiers

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