Diepsloot gets cleaned up in honour of Madiba

Ongeziwe Jongisa, who works for the City of Joburg (foreground), was one of the volunteers who spent their 67 minutes gathering and disposing of rubbish. Photo: Robyn Kirk


A number of organisations and residents spent 67 minutes gathering rubbish, repairing broken toilets and leaky taps, and removing waste from a wetland in the Diepsloot informal settlement. This was done in honour of former President Nelson Mandela on what would have been the anti-apartheid activist’s 99th birthday.

Photo: Robyn Kirk
Kristin Kallesen, Gekco’s chairperson, stands in front of all the rubbish collected during the 67 minutes cleanup.

Organisations including the Greater Kyalami Conservancy (Gekco), Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the Water, Amenities, Sanitation Services Upgrading Programme (Wassup), Bontle ke Tlhago Diepsloot, Sticky Situations and employees from the City of Joburg joined volunteer residents in the clean-up drive.

“Kristin Kallesen [chairperson of Gekco] has, over the years, built up a relationship with a number of organisations in Diepsloot,” explained Darryl van Niekerk, also of Gekco. So we decided to spend our 67 minutes cleaning up both the wetland that lies inside Diepsloot, as well as the surrounds.”

Photo: Robyn Kirk
The wetland in Diepsloot, seen from the pedestrian bridge where the Mandela Day clean-up took place.

The main task of the day was gathering and removing the waste that has been dumped in the wetland around the bridge between extensions 1 and 2 of the settlement. Tonnes of waste had been dumped over time, forming great piles of trash on both sides of the pedestrian bridge.

“There is rubbish collection [here in Diepsloot], but it is not formalised, and the collection trucks cannot get everywhere to do the collections,” explained Kallesen. “So it’s easier for people to just come and dump their rubbish [around the bridge on their way to work].”

Hundreds of bags of rubbish were cleaned up before Pikitup brought in trucks to remove them from the settlement.

Photo: Robyn Kirk
Obed Kekae and his colleagues from WASSUP repair Diepsloot’s communal toilets during their 67 minutes.

At the same time that the area was cleaned, staff from the Wassup organisation spent their 67 minutes repairing some of the communal toilets that are scattered around Diepsloot and 67 leaky taps were also fixed or replaced.

“These toilets are broken. It looks like someone hit the tanks with a hammer,” explained Obed Kekae, a founding member of Wassup who oversaw the repairs.

“There are about 600 communal toilets here in Diepsloot and with the number of people who live here, maintenance and repairs need to be carried out weekly. Access to toilets is important. I think one of the biggest lessons that [Nelson Mandela] taught us as South Africans is the importance of humanity. We should take the time to help others.”

Even after the 67 minutes of Mandela Day, Sticky Situations was still concerned about the well-being of Diepsloot families. The organisation marked out a small piece of land close to the pedestrian bridge, where a playground will hopefully be built in the coming months.

Photo: Robyn Kirk
The clean-up took place on the pedestrian bridge between Extension 1 and 2 in Diepsloot.

“More safe family entertainment is definitely needed for the underprivileged,” explained Jennifer van den Bussche, founder and director of Sticky Situations. “I can take my kids out to Montecasino, but if you live [in poverty], what fun, safe things could you do with yours?”

In order to complete the park, donations of fencing, lawn and park equipment (such as benches) are welcome.

Details: Kristin Kallesen – [email protected]


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Robyn Kirk

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