Report by Helen Duigan Armour
A group of River Warriors hiked and paddled from one of the Hennops’ sources in Kaalfontein towards Hartbeespoort Dam. Each day they reported on the section of the river they completed.
Day 5: Willem Snyman of FRESH.ngo reports.
“Our goal was to reach Hartbeespoort Dam after five days of walking/paddling, but we have called a halt now till the end of July for health reasons. Then we intend regrouping and do the last stretch with more boats and a fanfare across Hartbeespoort Dam!
“Our last stretch needed hard paddling and took an entire day - the last part done in the moonlight. This was a spectacular, winding course through the Schurweberg and Hennops River Valley with deep cliffs and hairpin bends along an ancient course carved over aeons.
PROCLAMATION OF THE CROCODILE RIVER RESERVE
“Parts of this area will soon officially be proclaimed as the Crocodile River Reserve. Our hope is that this protection will eventually be extended up-river, all along to the source, as a bio-corridor.
“On this last lap there were four boat teams: the FRESH 'Bio-hazard' (myself and Karla Jooste), the BluSwirl 'Ratel' of Anton Francois Baileyand Stefan De Beer, the 'Rescue' team of Impact Adventure - Africa, and Mark Mcclue of ARMOUR in 'Kayak' to shoot the rapids.
“’White water’ rafting took on a new dimension in this still highly polluted river – once the cleanest in Gauteng. As we travelled through pristine areas the thick white foam and lingering sewerage smell slowly started lessening - the further down river we went. This is a beautiful stretch of river that hasn't been paddled for many years, because of its dangerously polluted state. The whole journey has been amazing. We were spell-bound by the wonders of this green corridor. So much potential! All currently polluted and lost.
UNLOCKING VAST ECOTOURISM POTENTIAL FOR GAUTENG
“The Hennops can become an important Eco-tourism attraction in the heart of Gauteng. It’s an historic route meandering through the ancient areas of our Cradle. It is so accessible to our large urban areas - with walking, canoeing, cycling and horse trails - along secure corridors. Plus lodges and historical attractions which can form part of this fascinating trail. Sustainable employment can be created - uplifting the whole area. Once the water is clean…
GOVERNMENT AND MUNICIPAL NEGLIGENCE AND INCOMPETENCE ARE POISONING OUR PEOPLE
“The rampant pollution ruining the Hennops and further down-river must be stopped. It is an unacceptable situation. Government and municipal negligence and incompetence are killing our environment and poisoning our people. Most of our waste seems to end up in our rivers, hidden in no-man's lands and eventually flushed down to the sea - an open-air water-borne sewerage system. Three metres high white foam churned up in areas. Two metres deep black sludge, built up in only four months after the rains. Massive amounts of polluted effluent spilling into our rivers that irrigate our crops.
“Dead rivers cannot cleanse themselves. It is up to us.”