Our Burning Planet

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Kaalspruit River cleanup boosts revival of Gauteng watercourses

Kaalspruit River cleanup boosts revival of Gauteng watercourses
Volunteers pick up rubbish from the banks of the Kaalspruit River. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Volunteers remove an estimated 25 tons of waste, including four dead dogs, from a section of the Kaalspruit River.

An astounding 1,000 bags of rubbish were removed from a section of the heavily polluted Kaalspruit River in Tembisa recently. A collaborative cleanup initiated by NGO Hennops Revival and supporters including 65 volunteers removed an estimated 25 tons of rubbish.

Volunteers at the Kaalspruit River. Plans are underway to repair and rehabilitate an old landfill site to prevent rubbish from being thrown into the river. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Founder of Hennops Revival, Tarryn Johnston, and her team of volunteers removed nappies, tyres, bottles, shoes, clothing, food, furniture, toys, hair extensions, household waste and four dead dogs from the river. She said the river was full of sewage. A water sample had been sent for analysis.

Volunteer Lindy Anne Brown prepares to move a refuse bag filled with rubbish. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

“It is a dumping ground. It is going to be a long process to change mindsets, but we are passionate about what we do and we know it will not be easy. It is so sad to see the river in such a condition, but it does bring some level of comfort knowing that none of this will be washed down the river when the rain comes and this rubbish will not enter the Hennops further downstream,” Johnston said.

A volunteer collects waste from a section of the Kaalspruit River. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

The Kaalspruit River runs from Kempton Park and winds between the City of

and Joburg before it joins the Hennops River. Johnston began a cleanup campaign in November 2019 with the aim of reviving, restoring and healing the Hennops River, one of the larger watercourses in Gauteng and also among the most polluted.

Two of the 65 volunteers collect refuse from the banks of the Kaalspruit River. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

DA spokesperson for water, sanitation and energy in Ekurhuleni, Councillor Derek Thomson, who was part of the cleanup said:

“I am passionate about the environment and what is happening to our river systems. With Tarryn and her team assisting us with her cleanup campaigns, not only are we able to remove the rubbish and waste, but we are also able to educate the people and get them to understand that they cannot just dump waste and throw things into the rivers.”

Founder of Hennops Revival Tarryn Johnston collects refuse from the banks of the Kaalspruit River. Her mission is to revive, restore and heal the Hennops River. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Thomson said plans to repair and rehabilitate an old landfill site were a measure to prevent rubbish from being thrown into the river.

A volunteer shows the remains of an animal found during the cleanup. Nappies, tyres, bottles, shoes, clothing, food, furniture, toys, hair extensions, household waste and four dead dogs were among items removed from the river. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

A younger volunteer with a bag of refuse. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

An image taken from inside a tunnel captures a volunteer as he is about to remove a refuse bag filled with rubbish. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

A volunteer throws a full refuse bag on to a bakkie. A total of 1,000 bags were filled in the Kaalspruit River cleanup. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Volunteers Lindy Anne Brown and her partner Ulrich Verburg said of their passion for contributing to the cleanup:

“Water is life and if we don’t do it (the cleanup) no one else is going to. We have been volunteering since May. It is our duty and responsibility to take ownership even though it is not our rubbish. But we need to show the community that there are people who care. We find this very rewarding especially after taking before and after pics of the river.” DM

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