Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Holy Sewerage

The title says it all, holy sewerage. A month ago I wrote about raw sewerage flowing into the stream that flows through the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens and I also mentioned about the itinerants cutting down trees in the area.

The biggest problem is that this stream forms the boundary between 2 municipalities, Mogale City and City of Joburg which causes jurisdiction problems and this stream is very critical in terms of bio habitats as well as religiously. It is the source of the Crocodile River and the biodiversity in this area astoundingly exceeds all expectations for such a small area. Both my articles got a lot of exposure with the media getting hold of them. The first one even reached the desk of the mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba. It even got me into environmental circles that I would have never dreamed of being in. What next, I suppose next is Green Peace.

Firstly a report back on the raw sewerage. We were told by the council members and heads of sanitation of both Mogale City and City of Joburg that the leaks have been fixed. With a lot of people watching, Andreas Oberlechner, chair person of the Roodekrans Neighbourhood Watch organised a walk down into the kloof this morning hoping lots would attend since it being a public holiday. He invited all the necessary people along so that they can see for themselves the beauty of the Witpoortjie Kloof, which I am told that this kloof is called, and inspect the repair work. But sadly the offer was not taken up by many and only the Friends of Kloofendal and myself took up the offer.

Okay that was the bad news now for the good, the kloof is sewerage free, yay! All the leaks have been repaired and unblocked. New manhole covers have replaced the broken and missing. The broken sewer pipe has been repaired. Good news everywhere we checked. All we need now is some good rains to wash the residue build up away. Never has so much been done, so quickly by so few. Now for some more name dropping, thank you to the councillors Suzanne Clark and Antoinette Fourie from City of Joburg and Mogale City along with the respective environmental and water management teams for getting their hands dirty and fixing the environmental mess, South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the community forums, environmental groups, and the media. A big thank you to all as no more raw sewerage is flowing into the National Botanical Gardens. We will keep monitoring the situation.

Now for the Holy part of my article today. Since it is a public holiday, pilgrims came flooding into the kloof to drink and fetch the holy water of the springs that are at the head of the kloof. Yes we have Holy Water flowing out of the rocks. Previously I thought it was just the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) coming down to the water but today my eyes were opened as I questioned a lot of the pilgrims. They were from all different types of faith, not only the ZCC but the apostolic faith churches, and even the Emmanuel Mission from Soweto were represented. I have seen the traditional healers, sangomas, and inyangas here too but not today.

This pilgrim just came out of the old flooded mineshaft fetching freezing cold Holy Water

Now I don’t mind the pilgrims because the water is for all South Africans, as long as we keep it clean. I must say that the pilgrims were very thankful that the sewerage spills had been fixed but my problem now is the amount of litter left down in the kloof, cutting down of indigenous trees for firewood, and the invasive alien plants.

As for the indigenous tree cutting, I even saw some pilgrims bringing in their own firewood from outside which is good, even better is to cut down all the invasive wattle trees. I asked about the litter and they fervently denied they were the culprits, but okay never mind who is doing it, let’s find a solution to clean it up and prevent it from happening. Another question which I never asked the pilgrims but voiced my concern with my fellow hikers, what about the pilgrims ablutions. Where do they go? In the holy waters?

We can only do this together. We need to work together with the pilgrims, the political parties in charge of Mogale City and City of Joburg, SANBI, the community forums, environmental groups, and the locals living in the area such as myself. We can do it. We can make this kloof along with its holy waters a place for all to come and find God in whatever form they believe even if their god is nature and mother earth.


Andrew Hyslop said...

glad you got through to the mayor as I have been trying for 3 weeks to get a reference number for my letter re litter and damage to protea trees on Little Falls Ridge.

Jerome West said...

Hi Andrew, thanks. Because of the exposure that my blog post got about sewerage flowing into the Botanical Gardens, a meeting was held at the Bot Gardens with all the environmental groups, and Councillors from the area to which I was surprisingly invited. A group was formed from this meeting called the Greater Roodekrans Ridge Conservancy Group consisting of all the role players. The Little Falls area is also part of the ridge system and I think also part of this group. If not let me know who the council person for your area is and and leading persons to add to the group.

We are fighting the same battles as Little Falls and need to work together.

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