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ALEXANDRA residents who trapped the highest number of rats using cages that they were given to them by the City have won cellphones from 8ta for their efforts.

The 45 winning rat catchers were praised by the regional director of Region E, Liziwe Ntshinga-Makoro, for uniting to tackle the vector infestation at a small ceremony held at Three Square in Alexandra.

The rat cage project is part of the Siyakhona initiative, set up to put an end to the rodent problem in Alexandra. Siyakhona is an educational and outreach programme that mobilises people to clean their environment, and keep it clean.

Through it, 100 cages were distributed to residents earlier this year by the City to trap rats. The winners were rewarded on 14 June.

“Close to 4 000 rodents were eliminated in three months as a result of the rodent cage project,” said Ntshinga-Makoro. “This demonstrates the level of commitment from the community and success that can be reached when comprehensive partnerships are formed.”

The target number of rodents to be caught in a cage was 60. However, in the three months, the residents outperformed the expected number by far.

8ta, the cellphone company, sponsored the initiative through the non-governmental organisation Lifeline, which is one of the partners in the Siyakhona initiative. Other organisations that are involved are Hillside Digital Video Journalists, Region E, Pikitup, Alexandra Renewal Project and local councillors.

On behalf of Sello Lemao, the portfolio head of economic development, Zweli Nyathi congratulated the residents for their dedication and raised concerns about the lack of participation from the youth. He urged the youth to partake in projects that would uplift their communities.

After trapping the rats, people would put their cage inside a black plastic container and hand them over to the City for fumigation. The rat infestation in Alexandra is caused mostly by unhygienic conditions, overcrowding, scrap yards and illegal dumping.

Illegal dumpsites are a familiar sight in some sections of Alex, where residents normally throw their rubbish. These places are breeding grounds for rats, which find their way into homes.

Earlier in the year, the City and EcoSolutions installed several owl nesting and release boxes in three schools in Alexandra – Zenzeleni Primary, Iphuteng Primary and Minerva Secondary – to control the rat population. The owl box project will run in Alexandra for the next three years. Part of it will be teaching adults and schoolchildren about the important role the birds play in eradicating rats.


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