Two women law enforcement officers were treated to lunch at Jerry’s Burger Bar in Shortmarket Street by mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis yesterday, Thursday July 14, for collecting nearly R90 000 worth of fines for illegal dumping and littering.
The officers, Veronica Michaels from Atlantis, and Nwabisa Magwaza, from Steenberg, who are based at Big Bay and Ottery respectively, were honoured for their hand at keeping the city clean.
At the lunch, Mr Hill-Lewis said at the beginning of the year, the City started a clean-up campaign in an attempt to get Capetonians to take responsibility for cleaning their communities, and also to put the heat on continuous offenders who litter and dump illegally.
Alongside the campaign, they started an internal competition to reward the officers who collected the most fines with a lunch with the mayor.
The two officers were treated ahead of Women’s Month, celebrated in August, and were the last two to be rewarded before the second phase of the campaign, which will be rolled out in September.
Officer Michaels, who has worked in law enforcement for five years, was happy to be treated to lunch.
She said people often litter without a care, however, she warned that those who are caught throwing a cigarette bud or an empty packet of chips out of their car window can be fined R1 000, and people who are caught dumping can be fined up to R2 500.
Officer Michaels said she wanted to be part of the law enforcement unit because she enjoys working with people, and took a particular interest in the wellbeing of her community.
She said while some members of the public can be difficult when they are confronted about littering or dumping, the trick was the approach of the officer.
“The key is to educate the person first and explain the consequences of littering, and then warn them not to do it again, but naturally, some people take littering for granted because it seems like a small offence.“
Officer Michaels says that while her job is demanding and sometimes dangerous, she receives help from her husband, who takes care of the household and her children when duty calls. “It’s tough to be a female in this field, but it is very rewarding for me. I always say a woman can do anything a man can do.”
Officer Magwaza also joined law enforcement five years ago because she wanted to make a change. “As civilians, we complain a lot but when you play a part, even if it is small, at least you are taking a step forward.”
She said educating people forms a big part of her work, as it can change mindsets and make people understand that littering and dumping is not okay.
She said while she often juggles work and spending time with her family and children, she enjoys the work she does, so she doesn’t feel the strain. “I make time for everything I love.”
Officer Magwaza said women are often victimised in other male-dominated industries which can be intimidating, however, she says she is one of the guys.
“I’m part of a team. There aren’t genders for jobs anymore. Now, a woman can do what a man can do.”
Mr Hill-Lewis thanked the women for their hard work, and encouraged them to continue to bring in more fines.
“We can actually do more. We want people to understand that there are consequences to littering and dumping.
“We encourage people to take pride in their city and their homes, and work with the City to clean up their communities.”
The portfolio chairman for the City’s Safety and Security department, Mazwakhe Nqavashe said the department was proud of the initiative, but also of the reward given to officers as this will sustain the campaign and motivate the officers.
“Thank you for keeping our city clean, because it corresponds with the broken window theory,“ he said.