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​MMC Molwele calls for a fight against rodents

Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Health and Social Development Councillor Nonceba Molwele has called on communities to declare war on illegal dumping to combat the infestations of rats, mice and other pests, which carry numerous diseases.

Speaking at the City of Johannesburg’s sixth annual Vector Control Conference at the Roodepoort Civic Centre on Friday, MMC Molwele said the City’s pest control officers could contribute immensely to improved environmental health by educating communities about the dangers of illegal dumping and infestations of rodents.

Pointing out that environmental health was high on the priority list of the City of Joburg and of the lists of the provincial and national governments, MMC Molwele said it was critical to introduce an environmental health programme in schools to “educate our communities through children”.

Consultations with the Department of Basic Education on this are under way.

MMC Molwele also said there was a need to work with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) to effectively tackle the scourge. The MMC said all these efforts would contribute to a cleaner and healthier city in line with the Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040).

Pests such as rodents have become a nuisance in Johannesburg, causing damage to property, eating and spoiling food reserves and, in certain cases, even attacking humans.
The objectives of the conference, which was attended by scores of vector control officers from all the City’s seven regions, were to:

Share information on how to maximise the fight against vectors;
Share best practices;
Empower vector control officers;
Evaluate programmes used to tackle the infestations of mice, rats and other pests; and
Ensure risks and hazards are minimised.
Experts from institutions such as the Pest Management Academy and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases addressed the conference on the dangers posed by pests and how these could be controlled and managed.

The City’s pest control officers and Environmental Health officials gave presentations on a number of topics, including controlling flies and rodents and the surveillance of plague.

Region E Pest Control Officer Daniel Rikhotso told the conference about the strategies the region used to fight rodent infestations, particularly in Alexandra. He said there had been a dramatic increase in rodent population in Alexandra as a consequence of the overcrowding, which resulted in the excessive production of waste.

“Alexandra is the only township I know where waste is collected daily, but the situation remains the unchanged,” Rikhotso said.

He said as a result, the region made more resources available to fight rodents infestations in the township. He said in nine months alone, 48 000 rodents were captured and destroyed using cages, glue traps, trap boxes and manual traps. Rikhotso also said the region conducted night blitzes in identified hot spots twice a week “because by nature, rodents are nocturnal”.

He said in one instance, pest control officers captured 267 rodents in eight hours.

“If we are to win this war, we need to understand the nature and behaviour of rodents,” he said.

Rikhotso attributed the infestations of vectors to “improper management of waste and behaviour of residents”.

Peter Manganye, Director of the City’s Environmental Health Unit, said the conference had helped to boost the morale and confidence of pest control officers, who were viewed in some quarters as ordinary labourers.

“There’s no question of the important role they play in the City,” Manganye said.