14 smoldering, illegal dumps in Johannesburg service 800 trucks a day

14 smoldering, illegal dumps in Johannesburg service 800 trucks a day

In the north of Johannesburg between Kya Sand and Chartwell AH, 14 illegal dumping sites are servicing up to 800 rubbish trucks a day.

According to the Fourways Review, these sites are run by organised crime syndicates and accept various types of waste. This includes everything from general household garbage, building rubble and garden refuse to toxic chemicals, electronic goods, and even medical waste.

The rubbish is burned daily to make room for new loads, resulting in continuous air pollution from smoldering waste.

The Kya Sand Burning Wasteland Community Forum, a local non-profit organisation, say the partially-burned waste releases highly toxic airborne compounds, particularly when plastic is set alight.

“Some of these compounds, called dioxins, are persistent environmental pollutants that tend to accumulate in the food chain,” said Forum member Keith Elliott.

“Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.”

Elliott added that the syndicates running the operations also pose a security threat to surrounding neighbourhoods.

These illegal dump sites are meticulously managed, with at least two marshals per site directing trucks to designated areas for waste disposal.

Legal action

Elliott confirmed that the forum have taken legal steps to combat these illegal dumping sites that have been causing environmental damage and health issues for local communities.

“The authorities – respondents in this matter – have refused to provide comments,” he said, while the forum have also applied for a court date.

He noted that at the very least – they have proof that the City is aware of the issue.

“We are serious about bringing the required change and have a competent legal team working for us, with the affected communities on our side.”

The forum said their demands are simple: stop all illegal dumping, clear and secure the current sites to prevent recurrences, and maintain a police presence in the areas.

“This is a major source of air pollution, groundwater pollution and surface water pollution,” Elliott added. “If the authorities fail to get this under control now, we are fearful that we will have over 20 dumpsites before long.”

A burning issue

Ward 134 Councillor Devon Steenkamp has emphasised the urgency of the issue, and says delays are causing significant health and environmental concerns for the community.

Despite a budget allocation of R10 million for capital expenditure in 2025-2026 and R49.2 million for a Waste Integrated Management Facility in 2026-2027, he says these plans are too far in the future.

“This lack of accountability is unacceptable, and the City must ensure these funds are used effectively,” Steenkamp said.

“I urgently want to see immediate interventions. Specifically, I want to see JMPD roadblocks 24/7 at every entrance into Kya Sand to prevent illegal dumping and stop the burning.”

The City of Johannesburg was sent questions on the issue but had not responded at the time of publishing.