South Africa

Scum, poop float in Jukskei River as residents’ calls for clean-up go unanswered

Jukskei River pollution

‘The effort is almost fruitless because five minutes after clean-up, it’s going to be the way it was again.’

The Jukskei River stinks. The water is black, coloured by effluent, waste, plastic and other pollutants. Scum with floaters, from excrement to takeout polystyrene boxes, collects everywhere along its shallows.

“It is in an absolute state,” said Bedfordview resident Adele Pote, who has been actively agitating authorities for several years, without any luck, to clean up the Jukskei River system.

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Together with local organisation Better Bedfordview, the community has been trying to improve conditions but have limited ability to do so.

“We try to keep it cleaned up,” said local DA ward councillor Jill Humphreys.

‘Junk just keeps coming’

“This effort is almost fruitless because five minutes after clean-up, it’s going to be the way it was again. The junk just keeps coming.”

ALSO READ: Messy Jukskei River to get dirt traps

The Jukskei River rises around the Bertrams area in Johannesburg, from where it flows through Ekurhuleni via Bez Valley into Bedfordview, Edenvale and then north, eventually ending up in the Crocodile River basin.

The water heads to Hartbeespoort Dam. Downstream is Alexandra township, where residents use the river for laundry, bathing and drinking water.

“It’s very dirty. It has poop in it,” said Pote, who added that despite writing to local councillors, municipalities, the department of water and sanitation, human rights commission, the public protector and even attempts on X, nothing has been done to resolve the situation.

ALSO READ: Children play with dead infant in Jukskei River

“It’s just getting worse,” she said. The City of Joburg’s media desk did not acknowledge nor respond to questions submitted by Saturday Citizen.

Plans to address Jukskei River pollution

Spokesperson for the City of Ekurhuleni, Zweli Dlamini, acknowledged the crisis and said a multistakeholder initiative is underway. Dlamini also listed some of the interventions by Ekurhuleni.

“Controlling litter and eradicating invasive alien plants along the stretch of the river system in and around the Bedfordview Morninghill area; and the city will implement the Extended Public Works Programme to deal with the excessive littering and pollution problem,” he said.

ALSO READ: Government lacking urgency to deal with sewage spills in rivers

However, Ekurhuleni only manages a small stretch of the river, flanked on either side by Johannesburg.

“They have been talking about a rehabilitation effort and they keep saying they are having meetings,” said Pote.

“But it never results in a pair of hands doing actual work.”

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