By Karen Watkins
A public-benefit organisation is running a three-month pilot clean-up project in the Constantia valley that creates jobs for unemployed people from Gugulethu.
The Pristine Earth Collective is working with the Constantia Residents’ and Ratepayers Association (CRRA), Constantia Watch, Friends of Constantia Valley Greenbelts (FoCVG) and the City’s Wynberg solid waste department.
The project is the brainchild of Brett Jordaan, of Constantia, who founded the organisation in 2019, originally to keep plastic pollution out of our oceans by using booms that collect litter in the city’s rivers.
The collective’s director, George van der Schyff, said it had gone on to forge a partnership with the Gugulethu Community Action Network (CAN) and Pamela Silwana, who heads up the Gugulethu branch of Organising for Work, a job-readiness programme run throughout the City
“We now run monthly clean-ups and also take the youth out to experience and connect with nature in ways they would not normally afford – the aquarium, cable car or boat trips on a vlei,” said Mr Van Der Schyff.
Makhasela “Ernest” Mbata, 41, is part of the project. He previously worked as a firefighter in George and a panel beater in Tokai until both contracts ended. “I hope the three-month contract will continue,” he said.
Thando Dlokolo, 23, who also volunteers at a soup kitchen run by the Gugulethu CAN, said they covered about 5km a day and collected about 20 bags of rubbish. They worked Monday to Thursday and on Fridays they cleaned up dumping hot spots in Gugulethu, he said, adding that he hoped the project would lead to other work.
The staff wear branded bibs and their progress is monitored daily, according to Mr Van Der Schyff.
The collective is appealing for two bicycles for the staff to use so they can cover a wider area.
City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo, said community-driven clean-up initiatives had an important role to play and the City could support them by taking the collected waste to a landfill. The public can email email@example.com to find out more about this support.
FoCVGB chairman Colin Walker said he hoped the project would replicate itself many times over.
“It’s another example of small beginnings by concerned and motivated community members who are going to take the initiative and not wait for someone else, in this case local government, to be coerced into fulfilling their public mandate.”
CRRA chairwoman Sheila Camerer said the collective had done a good job cleaning up at the bus/taxi stop outside the Alphen sub-council offices.
Contact George van der Schyff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 568 6969 for more information.