The City of Johannesburg says it is on high alert after a rodent was found to have plague antibodies, sparking fears of a possible disease outbreak amid an ongoing strike by more than 4,500 Pikitup workers.
The strike, which entered its fourth week on Monday April 4, has resulted in piles of rubbish lying uncollected in many parts of Johannesburg despite contingency measures put in place by Pikitup, the City’s waste management entity.
On Friday Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau announced that the City would deploy additional resources to Diepsloot, Ivory Park, Alexandra and other areas to minimise potential health risk.
“There are areas that are developing into health hazards due to illegal dumping near trading facilities, public spaces and recreational facilities. The City has prioritised the deployment of extra resources in mainly these densely populated areas that are at the highest risk,” said Tau.
An investigation into allegations of misconduct by Pikitup CEO Amanda Nair is currently under way.
Deputy Public Protector, Advocate Kevin Sifiso Malunga tweeted the following images over the weekend, questioning the administration within Pikitup.
According to Tau, an inquiry into the allegations is being conducted by a ‘respected and independent individual’ who will present the findings to the City within a month.
Professor Lucille Bloomberg, CEO of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, said a rodent tested positive for antibodies of the plague in Mayibuye in the City’s Region A.
“The presence of plague in an area is usually noticed when unusual ‘die-off’ of rodents occurs in a particular place. In this case, no ‘die-off’ has been observed,” said Bloomberg.
Speaking on AM Live, Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu called on residents assist with managing waste.
“Our main concern which comes directly from the strike is that rubbish is not being collected. There are health risks that are associated with the rodents that are normally around communities are concerning. We want to appeal to all the citizens of the city of Johannesburg to cooperate with the city to make sure that the rubbish that comes from the household is taken to the nearest waste site.”