by Willem Snyman
The river cleanup on Sunday December 9th was a great success - with many volunteers we managed to remove a huge amount of rubbish from the river and it's banks. Everyone, including the kids, worked hard and as the trash was removed this idyllic natural setting reappeared. Our new equipment consisting of boots, nets and gloves from Marys and Sensation came in very handy and kept us safe from the sludge that was coming down and had turned the river dark again.
This was our second cleanup on this old informal trash sorting site. The Bagerezi have thankfully been relocated to proper premises in Sunderland Ridge but the huge volumes of unrecyclable plastic remains. There are still two more Bagerezi groups sorting trash a little further upstream - they do a valuable job but turn these riverside sites that they live and work on into a massive trash dump. This all gets washed down when the river floods.
It would be great to restore this natural area, bordering the Swartkops Nature Reserve, into a park with walking and cycling trails, made safe with horseback patrols. After the clean, we all went down to the Royal Elephant Hotel. This venue would be a perfect location to start the walking trail from. We planted five large Yellowwood trees on the riverbank to thank them for the venue and as a first step towards starting the river trail and bio-corridor. Hopefully these trees will witnesses this restoration and become old and huge. The lovely voice and sounds of Adelle Nqeto created a beautiful ambience while we nourished our bodies with a fruit banquet.
Earlier we had seen some foam in the water and watched with growing alarm as the white foam reached massive proportions, piling up to human height behind a weir. We followed the foam trail all the way upriver, checking at bridges until it eventually led us to the effluent of the Olifantsfontein Wwtw. Over many years the Hennops has been plagued by huge foam levels. Recently much attention has been focused on this plant and with a directive from DWS it thankfully stopped for a few months. Now the pollution nightmare has returned in full force. Why this plant cannot be made to function properly with all the money poured into it remains a great mystery.
We'd like to sincerely thank all who participated in this cleanup event and helped to make it a special day.