Pietermaritzburg waste pickers blamed as landfill fire flares up again

A waste picker works, despite fires burning around him at the New England Road landfill site last week.
A waste picker works, despite fires burning around him at the New England Road landfill site last week.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The Pietermaritzburg landfill that caught alight last week, leaving the city shrouded in smoke, is on fire again.

uMsunduzi municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha confirmed that the fire had started on Thursday morning. 

This comes after a joint operation between the police and municipality security on Wednesday saw 30 people detained for living on the landfill site in New England Road.

“Of interest to the municipality were the persons who had erected shack dwellings within the restricted boundary of the landfill site,” the municipality said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The security services then advised all those who were residing in the said area to vacate the premises, as the process of demolishing these illegal structures will take place at the earliest convenience of the day,” it said.

Last week's fire burnt for nearly a week, casting a dark cloud over the city and forcing five schools in the area to temporarily close.

Provincial environmental affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube visited the site last Wednesday and expressed concern about the waste pickers, especially those living on the site.

“As we were walking around the site we found people starting fires. There are others burning metal. There are others burning all types of different things so that they can compact them and put them in sacks to sell,” she said.

Emergency services are on the scene.

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