Litter and Graffiti

The motto of the NRA is to make Newlands a cleaner, safer and more desirable place to live. This is the ‘cleaner’ bit.

Keeping our open spaces litter-free is a never ending job. The two main culprits are overflowing bins and mess left by roughsleepers.

But residents and their visitors aren’t blameless. It never ceases to amaze our litter pickers how many bags of household rubbish are put out on the street by residents. In fact, the problem of overflowing green bins is greatly exacerbated by residents bags being dumped in and around them. Those bags are then picked through by vagrants which just makes things worse.

For example, the man below said he was told by his Cypress Road employer to put household rubbish on the street ‘because they missed bin day’. The Christmas rubbish on the right is from Esme Road. We have very effective bin days in Newlands and it’s illegal to dump rubbish in the street. It’s also extremely anti-social – you’d never just drop that stuff out of your car window.

The NRA tackles litter in several ways; annual resident clean ups, intermittent blitzes at trouble spots, badgering the council to do more, heroic residents walking around with bags, and our regular weekly rounds. We are also lucky to have the wonderful Friends of the Liesbeek cleaning up the river, as well as support from the Council when we ask for it.

At the forefront of the NRA litter picking is Taurai Dzuda. He works all day on Tuesdays, patrolling our streets and focussing on specific problems as needed.

Because the bags he fills are so swiftly torn open by bin pickers, he is followed up on the same day by Gibson who carts everything off to the dump in his bakkie.

Overflowing Council bins are an ongoing problem. First, the green bins break all the time. Secondly, the City doesn’t empty them often enough. Thirdly, a few anti-social residents stuff bins with their household rubbish, leaving them useless for normal litter.

The worst bins seem to be in Upper Newlands where two teriffic households quietly empty all the overflowing bins on the M3 green belt and Newlands Avenue. An incredible, largely unappreciated effort. Newlands would not look as tidy as it does without people like these.

Graffiti is a bit different from litter as it comes in waves rather than a steady flow. We are sometimes free of grafitti for months but the ‘artists’ always return in the end.

Our experience is that it pays to react fast to remove the tags. They usually reappear within a few days (sometimes hours) and we remove them again, as quickly as possible. This seems to discourage the vandals and they move off for a while.

The most common surfaces for grafitti are road signs and municipal bins but they also tag cement walls and stonework. Our volunteers and Taurai can remove most of this but the trickiest needs to be done by the City’s grafitti team, who typically respond quickly and effectively.

At the time of writing, an individual or collective called TAPZ has been tagging almost every sign board from Lakeside to the City, on the M3. It’s an ambitious exercise in graffiti which is expensive to clean up, and presumably expensive for the vandals too. We have almost eradicated TAPZ from Newlands but he/she/they will be back.

Newlands is looking good and we want to keep it that way. Please take a few minutes to keep the street outside your home litter free – and let us know if there is rubbish or graffiti that you can’t deal with yourself.

The Litter and Graffiti team is currently led by Terry Strong who will be stepping down soon so,

If you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, an abiding dislike of litter and a healthy dose of persistence let us know. You can make a real difference!