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Saving the Kaalfontein Wetland

by Willem Snyman

Saving the Kaalfontein Wetland

Last hope to save what's left of the Kaalfontein wetland - one of the strong fountain sources of the Hennops River. A high powered information gathering and site meeting was held on December 11 in Kaalfontein. Lead by Mike Moriatti of Gauteng legislature. He has taken a personal interest in this matter and could still save this important wetland. The meeting came about through a letter to him by Kristin Kallesen of Greater Kyalami Conservacy (GECKO). We were joined by a group of high ranking officials as well as some representatives of the community. Residents also attended the meeting and a big meeting has been scheduled for Saturday morning with all the Com leaders, to find a solution and a way forward through their grievances. Mike 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 wisely turned around. The danger of flooding for the people building in the river course was emphasised 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. I have however heard this before from him, while hundreds more shacks have been built. None have services or trash pickup and all the waste goes into the stream. Moriatti 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. All have been reported with locations to Ella Mutyaba from ERWAT. Hopefully they 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 on the wetland. Kaalfontein always gives me a positive feeling, inspite 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 ten million was budgeted for this, although with the dumping and 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. Huge 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. 

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