There are 985 illegal dumping grounds in the Cape Town area according to the city's administration which has promised to increase its powers to combat the crime.
Cape Town is introducing higher fines for people caught operating or using the illegal dumps, and the city is examining ways it can impound the vehicles involved as well as summoning the vehicles’ owners.
The clampdown follows the recent death of a three-year-old girl who died after coming into contact with toxic chemicals dumped illegally on the side of the road near N2 Gateway in Delft, near Cape Town International Airport. The substance led to the hospitalisation of at least another 20 adults and children, all of whom have since been discharged.
The city has complained that there are increasing cases of private and contracted waste removal companies dumping rubbish illegally on land around schools and residential suburban areas.
Offenders face a lack of regulation, weak law enforcement and unlikely prosecution, according to non-governmental organisation groundWork.
The environmental justice group claimed that over half of South Africa’s municipal landfill sites were unregulated, leading to them being used for the illicit dumping of both toxic and medical waste.
The current fine for people caught disposing of refuse illegally is about R2,500, while Cape Town spends an average of R183,000 cleaning up illegal dumps.