A high-powered information-gathering site meeting was held yesterday (11 December) in Kaalfontein in Ekurhuleni. “This might be the last hope to save what’s left of the Kaalfontein wetland – one of the strong fountain sources of the Hennops River,” says Willem Snyman, who continues on the mission to save the river.
It was led by Mike Moriarty (DA Gauteng Provincial Chair) who has taken a personal interest in this matter and could still save this important wetland. The meeting came about after Kristin Kallesen, Chair of GECKO Conservancy, challenged the DA, saying it was ignoring the environment and Joburg was becoming a wasteland.
“We were joined by a group of high-ranking officials as well as representatives from the Kaalfontein community. Residents were engaged with and a big meeting has been scheduled for Saturday morning (15 December) with all the community leaders to find a solution and a way forward concerning their grievances,” reported Willem.
“Moriarty said that the dumping in the river course and the building of shacks on this rubble must be stopped immediately. As we stood there yet another truck arrived, but hurriedly turned around when he saw us. The danger of flooding to people building in the river course was emphasised to the community as well as the illegality of claiming and selling common land that belongs to everyone.
“We got a firm commitment from one of the local self-appointed developers that work will be stopped. However, I have heard this from him before – while hundreds more shacks have been built on dumped rubble. None has services or trash pickups and all the waste is dumped into the stream. Moriarty also ordered the huge pile of tyres lying ready for burning to be confiscated and said that the sewerage leaks must be stopped immediately.
“Afterwards I drove around and found seven seriously overflowing sewerage mains, which I reported with locations to an ERWAT engineer. Hopefully these will be fixed soon. A first step will be to clean the stream and eliminate this health hazard. It is hoped that with clean spring water flowing through, the people will realise the value of this precious natural asset and stop dumping into the wetland.
Kaalfontein community is positive but needs help.
“Kaalfontein always gives me a positive feeling – in spite of the problems and hardships it is a very nice place. I’m always amazed at the friendliness of the people. If the huge solid waste problems can be solved with regular rubbish removal the health and living conditions of this large community can be greatly improved.
“The goal is still to make the whole wetland into a large park. Apparently R10 million was budgeted for this, but with the dumping and illegal building this has been postponed. Land grabs and the invasion and destruction of our river courses has become a serious and widespread problem which must be solved before great loss of life occurs. And irreparable damage is being done to our natural assets. The protection of wetlands is crucial to our future water security and the health of our people and environment. “