ANOTHER knife attack has occurred at Arlington Waste Disposal Site. The attack, which took place on Saturday afternoon, comes amid calls by the DA for an investigation into the chaotic state of the site and questionable swopping of contractors.
It follows on an attack last month in which Frank Kafesu, who was off-loading rubbish for his employer, was repeatedly stabbed by thugs, who demanded his mobile phone.
A member of the public who witnessed the latest attack described yesterday (August 22 2011) how he had just arrived when the drama erupted.
“A big truck that had just off loaded was leaving. A young guy perhaps 18 years old jumped onto the truck and proceeded to try and stab the driver through his window.
“The driver tried to take evasive action by swerving wildly. But the attacker hung on and broke the side window to get at the driver.
“In a panic, the driver got his truck stuck. He then threw open the passenger door, and ran off – hotly pursued by this thug with his large knife.
“As the place was full of very unsavoury scroungers I was loath to intervene or use my cell phone. So I am not sure if the driver survived or not.”
As he was exiting the site, the witness called his wife and she reported the matter to Walmer Police Station.
He said the scene prior to the incident was already ugly.
“I have been going there for many years at least once sometimes twice a weekend to dumps garden and household waste, as we have small-holding and no services.
“For the last year under the management of Lexington it has never been better managed.
“I had heard that there was going to be a change, and when I got there at the weekend, it was clear this had happened. There were piles of uncovered rubbish everywhere and hordes of vagrants all over the place. None of the officials had bibs to distinguish them, which worked well before.”
Responding to an alert from the witness, DA ward councillor Stanford Slabbert said the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality needed to urgently intervene.
He said he had in fact visited the site the previous morning on Friday 19 and had been shocked by what he saw.
“Firstly, the stench is unbearable. Secondly, there is litter everywhere. Thirdly, the actual tip working area was a chaotic mess with scavengers everywhere.”
Slabbert said it was his understanding that the contractor, Lexington, had vacated the site the previous Sunday and that Shweme – which was the incumbent contractor for five years before the installation of Lexington a year ago – had taken over again
“On what basis have they been re-instated?
“Since then, the site has degenerated into one chaotic mess, and the health threat from unexposed garbage and fumes poses a major threat to the residents of this metro.
“Uncovered garbage and carcasses have led to a very unhealthy stench and this poses possible typhoid and cholera threats to all.”
Slabbert said he had seen no screens to capture wind-blown garbage, and this in itself will lead to massive littering of the surrounding areas.
“Urgent action is needed to restore this landfill site to some form of normality. The present conditions on site are such that I believe the metro could have its license revoked.
“I hereby call for an independent audit of the site and for immediate action to be implemented to contain the possible health threats posed by the current state of this site.”
Slabbert said he was also calling for an urgent investigation into the metro’s handling of the waste management contract and the circumstances leading to Lexinton being removed and Shweme being re-instated.
‘Has the new contractor signed a similar contract to that of Lexinton and, if so, why is this new contractor being allowed to operate in such a shambolic way?
“What action will be taken against Shweme Civils for allowing this chaotic state of affairs to develop over the past week?”
NMMU environmental health expert Dr Henri Maarschalk, chairman of the Arlington Landfill Monitoring Committee, said he visited the site on the Friday afternoon and he agreed with the councillor.
“It is obvious that something went terribly wrong. Never before has the place been in such a mess.”
When The Herald visited the site yesterday, the atmosphere did not seem to be hostile but management of the site did seem chaotic with piles of stinking rubbish lying on the sides of the access road and in the surrounding bush and clogging one wetland area.
Cattle were wandering around, smoke was billowing from a fire, dozens of waste-pickers were moving over the tip and the stench was awful.
Shweme manager Themba Williams told The Herald his company had been contracted until the end of the month by the metro, “to do a mop up”.
“The tip was left in a mess by the previous contractor. We have been busy cleaning up. It is all going to be cleaned up by the end of the month.”
Lexington director Kalp correct Mostert said when his company handed over the site to the metro on August 14, “it was in a spotless condition.
“We have photographs to prove it.”
Lexington took over from Shweme in August last year on a three-year contract but were recently told by the metro that they were “not working according to specifications” in terms of how they were managing the site.
“We disputed this allegation and they then refused to pay us. We got our last money from them at the end of May. We received no money therefore for June, July or for the 14 days of August that we were managing the site.”
Mostert said he can not go into the details on what specifications are involved as this forms part of their court battle which is presently underway with the metro.
“But I can say that the site was in a 10 times better condition that when we took it over last year.”
Metro spokesman Kupido Baron
the metro will be involved soon in a High Court action over the matter and as a result he could not respond to several of the The Herald’s questions.
“However, we would like to state that the municipality did put measures in place to ensure that the site will be cleaned up and managed on a temporary basis until the formal tender is awarded after the commencement of the tender process that will start soon.”