Residents from all parts of the Komani community are coming together to beautify the town.
The town, overrun with weeds, from the public gardens to every other pavement and illegally dumped litter piling up between residential areas is taking on a new lease on life as residents join forces in a clean-up campaign.
Efforts to cut grass on unkempt public lawns and collect rubbish from illegal dumpsites were spurred by local businessman, Sean Russell, who started the clean-up drive last year.
Russell, using his personal machinery and staff, started the #ForThe LoveOfKomani campaign last year and has cleared areas including the Queenstown cemetery and illegal dumping sites in Ezibeleni and Mlungisi.
“The main reason I started the cleanup is the general condition of Komani. Everywhere the town is a mess. The grass is overgrown, fallen trees everywhere and dumping.
“It originally started with the cemetery where things were terrible and the municipality said it would close it because they thought it was full. When I said that was not the case they said they did not have the machinery to extend the sections. That is when I bought a TLB and slowly started,” said Russell.
While the work had proven challenging and dangerous, with an occasional snake popping out from under a rock, Russell said he believed the state of the town had become the responsibility of residents.
“One of our biggest challenges is the lack of action by community services whose role is to clean the town. As a result, most of us have decided we cannot see Komani fall.
“We started the #ForThe LoveOfKomani campaign, which I put in every post on Facebook to show people you do not have to be a millionaire to be empowered to clean in town. A rake and spade can clean your pavement and across the road and that is doing your bit. The whole town will be better for the effort,” he said.
Where illegal dumping is concerned, Russell said he believed most people had resolved to litter because they had no areas to dispose of their rubbish.
“If you drive through Mlungisi and Ezibeleni, 90% of the properties are clean. People have pride in their houses and streets, but they have nowhere to put rubbish so, invariably it ends up in public areas,” he added.
“When I was driving past Victoria Road the morning after we cleaned in New Vale, I saw 70-year-old Dinah Lentoor, with a spade on the road at 7am, cleaning her pavement.” Russell has since partnered with other do-gooders and donated money to help paint and fence Lentoor’s home.
Many other businesses and residents have since joined the initiative. Areas such as the Harry van Heerden Park, Hangklip Road and Foch Avenue have been cleaned, with plans to also attend to the decrepit public gardens.
Russell has donated a sum to the Komani public speaking league, a schools debating society.
“The league started last year. It is an opportunity for pupils to present their ideas in a format that is about solving the world problems rather than merely debating. We have looked at issues like global warming and world hunger and found the children are very resourceful,” said teacher and Komani public speaking league manager, Louise Charisika.
“On Friday we will have an introduction workshop to teach the children how to put the ideas on podcasts. We will then have team and individual competitions to identify who has the most insight into the problem and can get the best solutions,” said Charisika.
Queen’s College has also donated resources and staff to help with the upkeep, donating staff and machinery to clean public lawns and the Berry Dam area.
“We understand our responsibility to serve the community. We want to do as much as we can to make the experience of the town better for people,” said the headmaster, Janse van der Ryst