Tarkastad residents woke up early on Saturday morning, 14 January to clean up their town. The initiative was pioneered and led by the Tarkastad branch of AfriForum and the local DA branch.
The group of concerned residents started with the Blanco Road next to the town’s landfill site. This area, surrounded by kilometres of grassy lands, is usually inhabited by livestock searching for grazing pastures. However, over the past couple of months, some of these animals have died from the drought, but more alarmingly, ingesting toxic materials blowing from the dump. The area is also a health hazard to the residents of Ivanlew township. The township is in close proximity to the site and illegal dumping spots.
Tarkastad’s AfriForum, which also initiated a resident neighbourhood watch project last year, have been embarking on projects and plans to unify and boost the town. AfriForum’s leaders say they want to foster a spirit of resourcefulness and self-determination in its residents. This motto could be seen on the clean-up participants’ AfriForum-sponsored t-shirts which read “#SELFDOEN” at the back.
Although the name might suggest sectarian meanings to someone who is not familiar with the group, AfriForum is a non-racial, non-partisan and non-classist community organisation which welcomes people of all backgrounds in its membership. The Tarkastad resident population is approximately 6000 people (Census 2011).
The group was very pleased with the resident turnout which was more than they had initially expected. They want to spread this momentum and the initiative to all corners of Tarkastad. Local AfriForum leaders are in talks with schools to involve pupils and more people in the upcoming clean-up. The steps being taken will ensure that the clean-up initiative will be a regular community project.
The group also thanked Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality who provided support in the form of waste bags and a garbage truck in addition to support received from community partners.