By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has started reclaiming the city’s “pits of death” following an outcry from residents and human rights activists.
This was after two people drowned in disused pits in Pelandaba West suburb last week.
The incident occurred just five days after a teenager drowned in a pool of death.
The pits, which have claimed many lives, are a creation of illegal sand poachers.
The local authority over the weekend deployed its equipment on site to fill up the pools.
“This pit had become a serious threat to life in this area. As council, we had deliberations with different stakeholders and we agreed to fill it up,” ward 17 councillor Sikhululekile Moyo said.
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) recently petitioned the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) to force council to address the issue.
MIHR described the open pits as a health hazard.
The MIHR argued that section 73 of the Constitution, read together with sections 44, 194, 276 and section 4 of the Environmental Management Act stipulated that any dangerous pits must be covered.
“As it is, the equipment has been deployed on the ground and work has already started. However, we are hoping that from here we move out to other sites so that we can save lives,” Moyo added while calling for stiffer penalties against sand poachers.
In a petition to Ema, MIHR argued it is “the right of the residents to live in a clean and safe environment”.
MIHR added: “We implore Ema to compel BCC to close these pits. Stone boulders and heaps of sand are already in the vicinity of these pits and can be used to execute the task. BCC is aware of the existence of these pits and the danger they pose to the residents.”
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