Thursday, September 8, 2016

THE PROMISE - OPERATION MPUKU

Victim of the Bubonic Plague 
I would like to thank the Mayor and his staff at the Metro for responding so quickly about the rat infestation.  I have no doubt that my inclusion of Media 24 also had an impact.    Yesterday, 7th September, 2016, Johan Bothma, the Acting Manager of Animal and Pest Control came to see me to discuss the rodent problem.  A little late for the meeting was Buyiswa Humani,
Area Inspector of Central.  I explained that the problem was not just that of Central, but of the Metro and in general, that of our entire country.  They were surprised by my knowledge of the rodent situation and after a fairly in-depth discussion; I was assured that their various departments would begin working immediately to control the rats, starting in Central. (Central will be the first targeted are…I suppose because I am the one who has made the most noise about it and I live in Central.  They would have taken my rat had I not had him killed as they do testing on live rats only in the Koega Municipality.   I also discussed the ridiculous decision to demarcate an area called Koega and one called the Metro when dealing with the testing of diseased rats.  Rats have not been taught to read yet and it is a simple walk across an invisible line for a disease carrying rat and his family to cross.  My dead rat is in a body bag and will be disposed of in the right manner (no funeral).   While they were surprised by my knowledge of the rodent situation, I was surprised by their lack of knowledge surrounding issues that have relevance for rat infestation.   Why had they not known what day Rubbish is collected in Central?   Another issue that I discussed was the abandoned and vandalised buildings, in particular, the old Sunnyside Hotel which is behind my home.  The old hotel offers free accommodation to various people such as pimps, prostitutes, and criminals; and is a store house for stolen goods.  There is a lot of noise coming from there at night and on many occasions I have called the police because it sounds like women and children being beaten.  The police say that they will not enter the building alone so that means the old hotel is a haven for criminals.  A concerted effort would have to be put in place by various departmental heads to sort out the Sunnyside Hotel; and all the authorities who were here yesterday have promised to do something about it.  At noon, Buyiswa Humani returned with Andile Tolom, Executive Director:  Public Health, and two other officials,  Nickie Oliphant and Gerard Foutie.   The rat infestation and the abandoned buildings were again discussed.
 The first request for the metro to do something about this vandalised and disused building goes back 10 years.  The DA have been particularly useless in sorting out this problem.  The old Sunnyside Hotel was the original Standard Bank and the Heritage Foundation would like to see it restored to its former glory.   The owner of the Sunnyside has paid all his rates and taxes, but the metro can still give him a time limit in which to sort out the building after which they can do it themselves and the cost will then be for the account of the owner.
I reiterated that the rat problem was not a problem only in the area in which I live, but a problem of the entire Metro and the country at large.  In fact, rats are killing prisoners, babies and the infirm are being bitten everywhere in South Africa and rats have been found to be carrying the bubonic plague. 
The Metro authorities do not have to worry about the information they have given me.  I know how to keep a secret – I have had years of practice; so I am unable to divulge exactly what plans are going to be initiated and what preliminary plans are already in operation.  However, if Mr Tolom and his minions are to be believed, the Metro will soon be the only Municipality without a rat problem.
All the officials who came to see me yesterday had one question they asked.  “Why?”  “Why was I so interested in the rat infestation and why was I interested in the abandoned buildings?  Who was I reporting to?” 
“I know you are reporting to Mayor Trollip”, I said.  “And Mayor Trollip and all of you are reporting to me.  You are paid civil servants. And furthermore, I am a concerned South African citizen.  I report to no one”. 

They left on a happy, but rather a perplexed note.   Given that an outbreak of the bubonic plague is not impossible and considering the state of our Health Department, we have a huge problem looming if we don’t all take a stand against the rats.  I've been thinking - I don't even know why I do what I do other than knowing that if I see a problem and I don't do something towards it's solution, then I am turning my back on myself. 
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