The state of Tzaneen's CBD. Piles of rubbish was left to accumulate between the street hawker stalls opposite the bus terminal.

The Greater Tzaneen Municipality (GTM) erected user-friendly kiosks for the hundreds of street hawkers who do business in the CBD in 2013. The most concentrated of these “kiosk neighbourhoods” is situated behind Boxer opposite the bus terminal at Tzaneng mall, and inside the Claude Wheatley taxi rank.

Over the years many of these kiosks gradually evolved from hawker trading stalls to gathering places for the vagrant community who use some of the kiosks as accommodation. Others use them for storage. It is also known that drug dealers frequent the tiny passageways between these kiosks as they provide cover from watchful eyes.

The state of the CBD came under fire by one concerned citizen who uploaded these images to Facebook.

This week the GTM decided to clean up the area surrounding the kiosks behind Boxer opposite the bus terminal. It is noticeably clear that despite the municipality’s insistence, cleaning does not occur regularly at this spot. The clean up was only initiated after a concerned citizen posted pictured of the dastardly situation over Facebook and demanded action from the GTM.

An hour later we received images from the spokesperson of the GTM, Neville Ndlala, and a statement that “we have cleaned the area”. There was no further communication on our inquiries into the frequency of the clean up or the reason why these kiosks are still in use. We also have not received clarity on plans for the kiosks in future, or how the municipality intends to rectify the environmental disaster the area has become. There is also no indication that any parts of this area were disinfected.

During the start of the lockdown this reporter documented the state of the area through a live video stream over Facebook. In the video the amount of motor oil being spilled into the storm water drain can clearly be seen. The area is inhabited by street mechanics and what used to be a parking lot, now resembles a bombing strip in Gaza.

Roughly an hour after the post on Facebook, the area was cleaned by EPWP workers.

While it is good news that the area has finally been cleaned by the EPWP crews, we are left wondering how long it is going to last and how regularly the clean up will be initiated. The state of the neglect in this area is concerning and tarnishes the positive reputation of the municipal manager who has to date been held in high esteem by the community.