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Durban – Inquiries were under way in Chatsworth on Monday to locate the source of medical waste dumped in bushes. This was the third batch of medical waste found in different parts of Chatsworth this year, according to Shaun Hammond, chairman of the Silverglen Conservancy and a member of the eThekwini Conservancies Forum. Three weeks ago, near the Durban Solid Waste (DSW) garden refuse collection site on Sunset Avenue, the first batch was found. A alert to residents to stay clear of the site at the time was given by Ward Councilor Tony Govender. Different city departments were notified by Govender for assistance. The source was not traced at all.

A week ago, the second batch of waste was discovered in Havenside. The medical waste bags were removed promptly by DSW, Hammond said.”Valuable evidence was destroyed and it was not possible to trace the perpetrators,” Hammond said. Approximately 20 black bags of medical waste were found in bushes near Welbedacht on Monday. The bags included glass vials, medical containers made of plastic, intravenous therapy (IV) bags used, etc. No blood was identified. Hammond has claimed that the illegal disposal of general waste warrants a fine of R5 000.

Other toxic substances that do not exclude medical waste can attract hundreds of thousands of rands of fines. Hammond said that only licensed waste carriers would remove all specialised waste. Msawakhe Mayisela, spokesman for the eThekwini Municipality, said if there was ample proof gathered or a sworn affidavit from a victim who was prepared to testify in court, then legal proceedings may be initiated against the incident’s perpetrator. These incidents take place frequently in the region, but these incidents are not routine. It is difficult to dispose of medical waste through the urban waste collection scheme. He said medical waste must be disposed of by licensed providers of Health Care Risk Waste Service.

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If found guilty, the convicted party can face a fine or imprisonment of up to R10 million or up to 10 years. It is very important to keep the facts of such offences intact in order to help the police to collect relevant information in order to prosecute the case. “It is very difficult to prosecute anyone when the evidence is removed,” he said.

We urge members of the public to report directly to the local Environmental Health Units or to the EDTEA so that authorities can initiate an investigation and be able to locate the origins of any medical waste that has been disposed of in an unauthorised manner. The officials are then going to visit the site to collect evidence,’ Mbanjwa said. After the information needed has been collected, this waste must be disposed of by suitably trained and approved staff and properly disposed of at a licensed facility.

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