Rodents on the rampage

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The eThekwini municipality said yesterday it had an ongoing awareness programme to reduce the rats infestation at the Kennedy Road informal settlement outside Durban.

Last Thursday, just three days after a fire swept through the settlement destroying 200 shacks, a baby was bitten by rats in the settlement.

In January, Sowetan ran a story about rodents the size of cats that gnawed at four-month-old Nkosingiphile Cwera, who later died from the wounds.

The settlement is the biggest in the municipality, with a population of about 8000people - according to NGOs - all living in shacks and cardboard-type dwellings.

The municipality, however, maintains that about 2600 families occupy the settlement. Municipal spokesman Thembinkosi Ngcobo said the latest rats-bite incidents were worrying.

The municipality has been conducting an ongoing education and awareness campaign in the area for some time now. The programme is aimed at educating the community on proper waste management practices, and has also provided necessary resources for sustainability.

The municipality's Solid Waste Unit provides 2000 refuse bags to the informal settlement every week, and collection takes place every Thursday.

However, only about 500 bags are collected from the settlement - an indication that not everyone in the area uses the bags.

Ngcobo said a special clean-up campaign was conducted on Tuesday morning, clearing about 15 tons of waste following the recent fire which ravaged the area. "The council is, however, concerned that due to old cars, old fridges and other rotting material, the problem will persist.

"Our health department is running a campaign in the surrounding areas, giving out rat poison to informal settlements residents to minimise the problem.

"A similar programme is expected to start soon in Kennedy Road," Ngcobo said.