Locals wake up to a street littered with 100000 rubbers

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Residents of Ngonweni in Durban want answers after waking up on Christmas Day to find a batch of 10000 defective condoms strewn near a primary school.

The condoms were found by locals near Ngonweni Primary School on the main road to Indwedwe.

This is the second such discovery around Durban after more than 100000 unused condoms were found scattered in Ntande, Inanda, in October.

Controversy around defective condoms started in August when a senior official of the South African Bureau of Standards, Sphiwe Fikizolo, was arrested for passing sub-standard material.

The chief executive of Johannesburg-based company Zalatex, Lester Hurwitz, and his manager, Sajeev Joseph, were arrested.

The three men will appear again in court next month.

Zalatex and two other condom suppliers, the South African Bureau of Standards, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel also face a R5billion class action lawsuit over defective condoms the Health Department distributed earlier this year.

Mathibela James Ramahuma and 49999 other unnamed plaintiffs are each demanding compensation of R100000.

The claims have been served on the Health Department, Finance Department and SABS, says Gilford Malatji, the attorney bringing the action.

The two companies are Latex Surgical Products and Kohrs Medical Suppliers. The SABS appears as the fourth respondent.

Sowetan broke the story of the defective condoms in August, when we reported that the SABS's Fikizolo had been accused of taking bribes to pass defective condoms.

"I became aware of the condoms when I noticed people gathering at the spot and police arriving," a resident says about the latest incident. "It was a surprising but unwanted gift."

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for agriculture and environmental affairs Mtholephi Mthimkhulu condemned the dumping.

"An official of the department's environment management inspectorate visited the site and collected some evidence and will open a docket at the Inanda police station under Section 30 of the Environment and Conservation Act," Mthimkhulu says. "The act outlaws the dumping of medically hazardous waste except at a designated landfill site or incinerator."

He says he was in contact with MEC for health Peggy Nkonyeni on the matter.

"The disregard for the right to health of the people in this area should not go unpunished," he says. "I hope the police probe into this act will yield immediate results,"

Mthimkhulu says the condoms were similar to those dumped in October. Investigations into the previous dumping are at an advanced stage and arrestsare imminent, he says.