Residents living near landfill sites say these solid waste facilities are a painful reminder of the apartheid spatial arrangement and the Group Areas Act. They have decried the fact that even post-1994, these stinking dumpsites are only built in black communities and low-income neighbourhoods.

In Johannesburg, there is no municipal landfill to the north. All four of them are in the south, operated by the municipality. They include the Goudkoppies in Eldorado Park and Marie Louise outside Soweto among others. The Marie Louise Landfill Site is the last municipal landfill licensed by the City of Johannesburg just before the dawn of democracy. It’s situated on the borders of Dobsonville and Meadowlands in Soweto.

The unbearable stench from the dumpsite has created a toxic environment for residents and also made their living conditions. For the elderly, like 80-year-old Selabalo Moloi this is a painful reminder of being a second-class citizen.

“This is a good reminder of the past regime called apartheid wherein black people were located to places of squalor that resulted in this kind of sickness that our children and the rest of our prodigals being the sufferers of this event,” says Moloi.

Stench affecting residents

Another resident Peter Mathekga says they can’t enjoy any ceremony outdoors while living next to a dumpsite due to a terrible form the site.

“It is affecting us too much because this place is stinking and when people are doing their ceremonies or weddings they can’t sit outside properly because of the smell even children get sick from that,” says Mathekga.

A few kilometres away is the Goudkoppies landfill site in Eldorado Park south of Johannesburg. Affected Eldorado Park Resident Fiona Williams says they can’t stand the smell from this dumpsite.

“Well it’s a problem now that is winter it’s still okay the smell is bearable but when it comes to summer it’s terrible its actually unbearable. One can’t keep your windows and doors open because that smell is really disgusting even your food you can’t have your food down the way that smell is terrible,” says Williams.

Smouldering, chaotic landfill site, a serious health hazard: Soweto residents

A 16-year-old Quinick Williams was visibly not happy when thinking of the smell from the Goudkoppies dumpsite.

“I am unhappy about all this because at the moment is like you can’t do anything you can’t open your widows and when you cook you need to close your back door I am not happy about this,” says Williams.

All four dumpsites in Johannesburg including the Marie Louise and Goudkoppies have to be closed within five years. However, with the landfill’s placement in the upper middle class normally outside the norm, it remains to be seen where the next dumpsites will be built.