Helen Duigan from Armour reports
A group of River Warriors is hiking from one the Hennops’ sources in Kaalfontein to where it meets the Crocodile River. Each day they will report on the section of the river they walked.
Tuesday 11 June (Day 3): From Lenchen Ave bridge to Royal Elephant Hotel.
“Huge amounts of sludge along a beautiful walking trail,” remarked Willem Snyman (FRESH.ngo).
“A relatively easy walk, starting from the Lenchen Avenue bridge where massive volumes of foam is churned up by a small weir. A surreal scene of thick white foam, half a metre deep covering the whole river and breaking off and floating down like icebergs.
“Our way was barred here by the Zwartkops Golf Estate which wouldn't give us passage. While the others walked around I went through fences and unsuspectingly crossed the estate. They have followed the Centurion Golf Estate’s concept of an electric fence and razor wire right down to the water. One wonders about the legality of blocking the riparian way like this - not even a duck can pass without being electrocuted. We have to link this green corridor - and work together to save and restore it.
“In this slow flowing area the sludge build up is enormous. I measured it at two metres deep - a thick putrid, pitch black layer covering the river-bed. This could only have been deposited in the few months after the rains and shows the massive volume of pollution. It is estimated that 75% comes from Olifantsfontein WwTW and the rest from leaking pipes in Tembisa.
ERWAT GETS A BILLION RANDS TO “SAVE THE VAAL” WHILE POLLUTING THE HENNOPS?
“This ERWAT plant has been polluting the Hennops for at least five years now, using lies and evasion to cover it up while destroying all life in the Hennops. It is a major cause of the eutrophication of the Hartbeespoort Dam and the collapse of local fisheries along the Limpopo River.
To add insult to injury ERWAT has just been given a billion Rand contract to “rescue” the Vaal River - rewarding their incompetence for almost single- handedly destroying all the rivers down to the Indian Ocean.
“We have decided to take legal action to get justice and restore the Hennops. Polluters should pay. I have spoken with Lawyers for Human Rights who are very interested in this case. We will demand that the wetland flood plane next to the Olifantsfontein Road be reinstated. It has been eroded to a depth of two stories because of a wrongly placed and non-functional bridge. A litter trap needs to be installed to curb upstream pollution from Tembisa.
“On the beautiful though alien-infested path we met a friendly group of horses! Their manes were thickly entangled with weed seeds. The trail here can be made safe with horseback patrols and the fixing of existing fencing on the sides to form a long, green bio-diversity corridor where animal life can flourish.
WALKING ON WATER
“Further down we encountered the infamous Styrofoam Island - a natural litter trap where floating debris has built up to such depths that one can now walk on top of the water! It’s a decaying mass constantly releasing toxins, endocrine disruptors and micro-plastics. Even plants are growing on it.
“Accumulated funds from the sale of plastic bags in South Africa need to be released urgently for recycling projects. Anton Francois Bailey(@BluSwirl), our recycling partner, has several concepts to turn plastics into fuel with a machine that can process all this waste. This hike is part of a crowd-funding initiative to raise money and awareness. Please support it!
“We were met enthusiastically at Royal Elephant Hotel - long-standing supporters of our projects. Our team was given rooms here - a welcome relief from camping on the river bank in the freezing cold!
“Today the odyssey continues by boat. We'll be risking life and limb on these freezing polluted waters!”