Residents and business people of Klerksoord in the north of Pretoria are at a loss about sewage that has been flowing down the streets and even between office buildings for more than three months.
Despite repeated complaints being reported to the Tshwane Metro Council, no proper solution has yet been found to the problem.
Nardus Meyer, a businessman from the area, says this is what years and years of neglect looks and smells like.
“It’s a mess and it’s rotten!”
“We have to take money out of our own pockets to prevent the sewage from flowing even further between the offices and our roads. The municipality is not coming up with a concrete solution, they are just putting band-aids on a problem that will require much more effort.”
Iwan Venter, another businessman from Klerksoord, says he has owned property in the area for almost 20 years.
“I bought property here in 2004 and started developing it. The first 10 years it went well, but the last nine years everything fell into disrepair.”
Problem gradually worsens
The sewage problem reared its head last year, but the City of Tshwane at least still occasionally worked on it, says Venter. However, in the last few months the situation has worsened considerably.
“From May this year it really started to deteriorate and for the last three months the sewers have been hopelessly clogged with human waste running down the roads and flowing into business premises.
“The water level in the area is quite high, which causes the ground water to also be contaminated with sewage.
“I would like to get out of the area, but that will mean that I will suffer millions of rand in losses. My property is now worth less than in 2018, but my inheritance tax has increased by 60%,” says Venter.
“I have two factories and undeveloped land in Klerksoord. I am in the process of selling the land and I would like to sell the factories as well, but with the area looking and smelling so bad, with the sewage flowing into the roads and buildings and with the current economy, it is not possible.”
Inge Vos, a staff member at the Oakley Group in the area, says they have to endure the most disgusting smells on a daily basis and don’t even know what fresh air smells like anymore.
“The smells that come out here are unbearable; we can’t open our windows, our parking is flooded with sewage.
“The area is turning into a sewage farm – with human waste everywhere.”
Vos says the big problem lies with the manholes.
“The lids are stolen, which means they are filled with rubbish and rainwater. This causes the sewage to rise up and end up here between our buildings. It is so bad that the manholes have become unreachable even now.”
Vos says she is particularly concerned about the water network that could be polluted.
“We have a borehole here. How long before this sewage mixes with the clean borehole water? Then we might end up with another cholera outbreak like the recent outbreak in Hammanskraal. What then?
“The City of Tshwane has made it known that they are working on the problem, but it is getting worse by the day.”
Come and see for yourself, Mr. Mayor
According to Venter, at this stage it is business people in the area who are trying to maintain the roads with their own money.
“We rebuilt the stretch of road – where the sewage now runs off – in February this year at our own expense. Now it’s just being ruined again because of the sewage. In addition to this destruction, the ground below is also polluted.
“Where we originally had tarred roads, 99% of the roads in the area are now dirt roads. We have been promised for the last decade that the City of Tshwane is going to fix the roads, but nothing here is being repaired or maintained.”
Louwrie Nortjé, also an employee of the Oakley Group, says he has tried numerous times to bring the problem to the attention of the City of Tshwane.
“I even went so far as to leave a message on the Cilliers Brink Facebook page – not his personal page – because I saw that he was barely seven kilometers from us in Rosslyn at the BMW manufacturing plant.
“I just wanted to know why he can’t visit us. I wanted him to see the conditions in which we had to work.
“Please come here yourself, sir; please come and see what’s going on here.
“It is not a confrontation, it is an invitation. We are really trying to get involved and make the City of Tshwane aware of the problem, but we are simply ignored as if we are not important enough.
“I am a citizen of South Africa, a member of the community. I live in Pretoria and work in Klerksoord, I have supported the DA for years, but if I dare to speak about our problems I am just ignored.”
Venter says the main sewer pipe runs under the water channel and has never been maintained in the last 10 years.
“How and how long it will take to open and clean all the manholes, no one will know, but the City of Tshwane must get it done before the rainy season arrives – otherwise everything here will just continue to flood.”
- RNews has approached the Tshwane Metro Council for comment. It will be updated as soon as it is received.