New lease of life for Leisure Bay

ONE woman’s crusade against litter is making a big difference in the villages of Leisure Bay and Glenmore.

Vanessa Murray has started a revolution in the area and, off her own bat, is working on cleaning up every stand and street.

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While Vanessa and well-known TV producer Phillip Lennon – who started -#lookingafterleisurebay – have been out and about on their mission, they have stumbled across many horrific findings and some suspicious goings-on.

One of the most disturbing discoveries was that of a monkey carcass which appeared to have been shot with a crossbow. After examining the carcass Phillip concluded that the animal probably suffered a slow and painful death.

Vanessa and her team’s litter runs have unearthed decades of dumping and ‘out of sight, out of mind’ seems to be the order of the day. Beneath the leafy vegetation in the towns lies a landfill of rubbish and filth. And nobody cared until ‘Team Vanessa’ intervened.

Hundreds of dumped nappies have been found along the banks of the Thongazi River.

During their #lookingafterleisurebay crusade the team discovered hundreds of disposable nappies dumped near the Thongazi River.

So far Vanessa and her team have pulled out 1349 bags to date, with 90 percent of those bags containing disposable nappies. The rest of the contents included plastic, bottles, cans and household rubbish.

“This is definitely not random dumping as the nappies are tightly wrapped in packets,” said Vanessa. ‘Team Vanessa’ has also pulled some 50 tyres from a vacant site in Blackpool Street in Leisure Bay, heaps of toxic medical waste, snares and a roll of copper wire from the river.

Next on Phillip and Vanessa’s agenda is the strategic erection of hidden cameras to make life as difficult as possible for illegal dumpers.

Phillip, who has years of environmental experience and a wealth of knowledge on the subject, recently attended a public meeting in Port Edward at which the state of the Thongazi estuary was discussed. Phillip reported that the meeting was told the estuary had been given a ‘C’ grading, which meant it was in ‘pretty good’ condition.

‘Team Vanessa’ has removed hundreds of nappies bundled and dumped along the Thongazi.

However, he pointed out that since Vanessa had uncovered the dumped disposable nappies, according to the organisers of the meeting this grading was ‘highly improbable’ and concerns had been raised by other locals about the integrity of the water test results.

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When the Herald met up with Vanessa and Phillip last Thursday, it became clear they were doing this for the absolute love of their environment and its wildlife. There is nothing ‘slacktivist’ about these two strong and amazing people, who have gone, and continue to go more than the extra mile for the greater good of the area.

Vanessa’s pet hate is litter, and to quote Phillip – ‘Vanessa is trying to make Leisure Bay look like her home’.

Vanessa has funded this project from her own pocket and attributed a lot of the progress to her wonderful team of locals. “I love my staff and none of this would be possible without their hard work.”

Her obsession with clearing litter started in February, a few months after she moved to Leisure Bay from Johannesburg, and her passion is contagious, it seems, with her campaign to clean up the area between the Thongazi and Bhoboyi rivers slowly gaining momentum among village folk.

Vanessa Murray with all the rubbish collected along the banks of the Thongazi. PHOTO BY PHILLIP LENNON

Every Wednesday is litter run day and Vanessa’s team sweeps through, picking up every piece of litter on the main streets, the lookout points and as many of the side roads she can get to in the day. They have also tackled the beach dunes which were riddled with litter, largely due to careless fishermen and crayfish poachers using it at night.

Although Vanessa stressed her efforts were not aimed at attracting attention, it is difficult not to see her as a hero.

“We live in paradise, home to blue duiker, wild pig, monkeys and a healthy population of birds. I’m doing this for the wildlife, as they didn’t create this mess and don’t deserve to live in it,” she said.

And Vanessa has even made the authorities sit up and take notice. Tony Davis of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality has arranged 10 labourers, 2 500 black bags, a truck, and 30 dustbins as a contribution to the project. “I can’t thank the municipality enough,” added a grateful Vanessa.

In just under six months the transformation of Leisure Bay has been phenomenal, and next up is tackling all the vacant stands.

Leisure Bay’s long stretches of untouched beaches.

“None of this would have been possible without the generous support of people like Louise Schmidt Snyders, Laetitia Boucher, Debbie Hodges and Roy Bentley of Dolphin Pub and Grill (for donating food and drinks for 12 hungry workers), Debbie Lennon from Seabreeze Estates, and Ella and Willie Smith of Glenmore Superette and Take-away for also donating food,” said Vanessa and Phillip. “We also thank everyone who has helped in any way, whether it be by physically cleaning up, or by donating money, food and protective clothing such as gloves and boots.”

Ella and Willie Smith of Glenmore’s Superette and Take-away thank Vanessa Murrey for what she is doing for the area.

“I think what Vanessa and her team are doing is wonderful. You often don’t realise there is a problem until you see it yourself,” said Ella. Vanessa said it was the Smith’s generous donation towards her ‘litter run’ that led her team to the ‘disaster’ along the Thongazi River.

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The Herald was also lucky enough to meet two of Vanessa’s right hand men, Sihle Clarino Khumalo and Senzo Wise, who are equally passionate, dedicated and very proud to be involved with the project. They work extremely hard, clearing the bush to get to the hidden trash, which they then have to place into bags.

“It’s pretty bad and our biggest concern is the nappies which have been lying near the river for a long time. It’s important we clean up to conserve nature,” said Sihle.

Disturbingly piles of medical waste was found along the banks of the Thongazi River.

Phillip, who is the moderator for the Facebook page Leisure Bay and Glenmore community, said his weekly posts had turned up some interesting information.

Team Vanessa’ recently discovered copper wire presumed to have been stolen and dumped.

In one case he received an email from a woman who recognised the trash in the photograph Phillip had posted, telling him it was the same rubbish she had paid a local contractor to remove.

Phillip warned that they had the contractor’s name and number and they planned to take action to ensure this did not happen again.

He added they also had some strong leads on who was responsible for dumping the nappies at the river.

Thinking out of the box when came to fund-raising, Phillip recently auctioned off two of his crash helmets to talented South African actor Jonathan Pienaar, who bid R600. The money will go towards the litter runs. He is also actively involved in the Leisure Bay Neighbourhood Watch.

Phillip Lennon auctioned his crash helmuts to South African actor Jonathan Pienaar and the money will be used to help fund a ‘litter-run’.

“We have experienced a reduction in crime in the area largely due to our committed residents in the fight against crime, more than 30 radios spread throughout the area, our daily neighbourhood patrols and a good working relationship with the police and our local security company.”

A breathtaking view of Leisure Bay.

If you would like to help, contact Vanessa at 062 885 2075/ 039 319 1155 or info@tyvantrading.co.za. If you can assist with the erection of cameras or have information that could help stop the dumping contact Phillip at 083 299 7199 or message him via the Facebook page.

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South Coast Herald

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