By Emily Setona
BETHLEHEM – The speaker of the Thabo Mofutshanyana District Municipality (TMDM) visited the people of Bohlokong who live next to a landfill site, a gesture of recognizing that these members of society are usually sidelined and ignored but they play a critical role when it comes to recycling.
During a public participation engagement an Bohlokong, speaker Thabo Mokoena stated that these members of society live in an unhealthy environment and rummage through the garbage to find recyclable goods to sell so as to put food on the table, and they are challenging them as leaders to see how they can help.
“In recent years it is often said that recycling is the new gold and it is high time that we as government see how we can assist these members of the community who have already come together as a collective to try to find ways to help them better their lives,” Mokoena said.
The Dihlabeng local municipality wants to declare this area a legal and registered dumping site and help the people collecting waste here to be more organized.
Phakiso Mokoena, the chairperson of the Dihlabeng recycling centre, expressed his gratitude for the visit from the government officials who came to talk to them and engage them about the challenges that they are facing.
“I am very happy with this gesture because it shows that the municipality cares about us and is willing to listen to us, and share information with us and empower us,” Mokoena said.
When addressing the media, Selby Lengoabala the director of Community Services in TMDM said they are looking into turning this dumping area into a legal dumping site with a transfer station and a processing plant so that the waste that comes to this dumping area can be recycled into toilet paper and different types of recyclable goods.
“In the next two weeks we plan to return to this area and educate the garbage collectors about how to protect themselves; and we plan to bring them gloves and other protective gear, because this type of job has many health risks,” Lengoabala said.
“It being Mandela month, I saw it best to visit the most marginalized and forgotten members of our community – the garbage collectors in Bohlokong – because they are never there when we are handing out food parcels or blankets to more formal communities,” Mokoena said.