Ten Morgan community members in Winterveldt, north of Pretoria, are up in arms. They have had to contend with a “fly infestation” for more than a month now. Residents say the pests come from the nearby poultry farm. 

Philly Khoza (47) accuses the farm owners and its management of not taking the issue seriously because they don’t stay in the community and are not affected.

“The infestation started getting worse about a month and a half ago mainly due to the negligence of the farm in disposing of its waste and dead chickens,” says Khoza. 

Beyond being a nuisance Khoza and his neighbours have serious concerns about their mental and physical health. 

”Storing water is a nightmare because when you open the bucket flies come in,” he says. “I no longer even eat at home. I have even resorted to eating at work before coming home. But what about those people who are cooped up in the house the whole day.”

Flies are known to be carriers of many diseases of both humans and livestock, and are regarded as a sign of unsanitary conditions. 

Other residents have taken more drastic measures. Madiseng Madiga (67) has moved out of her house. She took her grandchildren and has gone to live with her children in a nearby village.  

 “I experienced this in 2021 and it was not nice. I’m not about to go through this again. I am spending more of my pension money on buying pesticides to control this infestation which badly affects the household income as I am taking care of my unemployed children and grandchildren.”

Residents in the area flagged this same issue in 2021. 

“This time it’s not us” – Maponya poultry farm

Henry du Toit, the manager at Maponya Poultry, says that the farm conducted its own investigation. And that the farm is not the reason for the fly problem this time around. 

He says that his findings show that 90% of flies breed on the ground. Only 10% breed in manure. Furthermore, these insects can fly up to 20 km from their breeding place. With wind, it can be more than 50km.

Du Toit has refused to let independent environmental practitioners conduct their own investigation. 

Environmental health

Residents say they’ve tried countless times to engage with Maponya poultry farm to no avail. Now they will approach the South African Human Rights Commission for advice on how to realise their right to a healthy environment.

“This is not the first time we have this problem. The farm was previously found to be the culprit, so in the name of transparency it would actually help to mend relations if we could dispel our suspicions” says Khoza. 

The Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development didn’t respond to questions sent. – Health-e News

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