River Keepers’ Service To The Environment

Greenville Garden City residents restore Mosselbank corridor 

A successful community initiative aimed at rehabilitating and maintaining the social, ecological and amenity value of the Mosselbank River corridor in Greenville Garden City, Fisantekraal is well established  and operating from its headquarters in the development.

The Mosselbank River Conservation Team (MRCT)  has built and resourced a community-based project crewed by local volunteers, to ensure the river is restored to its natural state and becomes a thriving environment with a range of benefits for the local Greenville community.

Garden Cities, developers of the 767ha new town, Greenville, have sponsored a container which serves as an office and storage space for the team. Fitted out, it has created a base for the team, focusing members’ sense of responsibility and accountability.

The container is emblazoned with images and information about the collaborative and all its events, with the object of attracting more volunteers to the programme, and to educate the wider Fisantekraal community.

Many beneficial and positive gains have been achieved since the launch in 2017, but most importantly, MRCT members have continued to put in hours of dedicated work on the Mosselbank River and community.

The MRCT is a group comprised of volunteers based in Greenville Garden City that together tackle some of Fisantekraal’s environmental issues, but more specifically, issues related to the Mosselbank River.

The core team includes Elizabeth Maans (Chair), Christene Gelant (Vice-chair), Thembakazi Ngcobo (Secretary), Gert Kraai (Store Manager) and John Claasen (Security and maintenance officer). Additional members include Esmeralda Julies (Stand-in Secretary), Lulama Dyobhani (Treasurer), Caroldene Prins (Stand-in Treasurer), Magdalena De Bruyn, Isak Jonkers and Marius Jansen.

The team was initially identified and established by Elizabeth Maans who was one of the very first residents of Greenville, where she has become an influential community leader. From the time she first occupied her new home, she decided to start cleaning the roads and river as a community service.

At the outset, when the new homes began to be occupied, Garden Cities, which is committed to helping create harmonious and environmentally responsible communities in its suburbs, invited the participation of residents who had a passion for the environment.

Ms Maans tackled the recruitment with enthusiasm, and, says Garden Cities’ Group CEO John Matthews, the team is growing in strength under her the strong leadership.

The duties of the team include monitoring and reporting of pollution; river quality; reporting fires; undertaking litter runs; weeding; clearing of alien vegetaton and educating local residents about the importance of a healthy river.

Currently, the team conducts litter runs every second week and community clean-up days once a month. The Mosselbank River rehabilitation is now in its maintenance period and the MRCT, together with local community members, has been employed to assist with the maintenance.

The team is promoting environmental education within the community by linking up with other NGOs and social development programmes in the community. Members promote awareness of illegal dumping issues, stray cattle (and the impact on the river), the purpose of the river rehabilitation, and the danger of fires. Events hosted by MRCT include World Wetlands Day, World Water day, World Rivers Day, and Mandela Day.

They are developing their skills through First Aid training, snake handing and administrative tasks, while also learning from other river maintenance teams, such as the Friends of Liesbeek (FOL).

The establishment of this group was facilitated through a small grant from the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) that provided equipment, personal protective clothing and training.