Volunteers get dirty for health’s sake


Concerned Alex residents engaged in a 10-day war against grime and decay in the country’s oldest township.

In groups, they volunteered their time cleaning up the streets which are filled with all forms of rubbish that piles up daily.

The exercise dubbed the Botle Ke Botho (healthy living) programme promotes environmental health and is sponsored by the provincial Department of Agriculture.

“Despite the negative tag of environmental decay, rat-infested and grime-laden streets and alleys in the township, our effort is not futile,” said resident Norman Lengwati.

The Botho Ke Botle crew clean up the street next to the Alex Taxi Rank. Photo: Leseho Manala

“We want it to rub onto others and create awareness on health, hygiene and the importance of environmental management, clean air, soil and rivers for our future generations.”

The exercise also adds to the monthly volunteer clean-up campaign, A Re Sebetseng, initiated by Joburg City Mayor Herman Mashaba. “All of them [campaigns] are to promote environmental health and change attitudes on public health through concerted education and practical evidence for those who see us cleaning the streets,” added Lengwati.

Another resident, Dikeledi Makgata commended the department which gave them branded overalls, gloves, rakes and refuse bags. “We all should be exemplary to our children in caring for our environment,” she said.

“Lack of refuse bins shouldn’t be an excuse for rampant dumping which occurs instantly after the streets are cleaned and at night for those who don’t want to be seen doing so.”

Fellow resident, Mmabotse Makgata attributed the dumping to deliberate and negligent action by those who are not historically and emotionally attached to the township. “Despite those who are ignorant of the value of environmental health and management, others say they don’t care as they have rural homes to care about.

“They say the work should be left for employed cleaners,” she said.

The Botho Ke Botle crew after cleaning up the Alex Police Station. Photo: Leseho Manala

The volunteers urged for collaboration among all users of public spaces and facilities such as taxi ranks to help create consciousness on the importance of environmental health. They also cleaned up the police station precinct and were commended for the effort by police officers.

“The station is a public space which should be exemplary all round and 24/7,” Lengwati said as they walked into the station to talk to the commander about a regular cleaning partnership and the hauling away of scrap vehicles left in the parking lot. The vehicles were said to be a breeding ground for rats.

Details: Mmabotse Makgata 073 247 5648

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