Wheelie bin thieves strike again

In the last financial year an average of 1 422 wheelie bins were stolen each month costing ratepayers between R8 million and
R9 million, according to the City of Cape Town.

Next year my refuse bin can be added to the statistics.

And the thief who wheeled it off in the early hours one Saturday, caused me a lot of inconvenience. It’s probably the same person who used to steal my morning paper.

My wheelie bin has stood in the same place for the past 21 years and only once did it disappear.

However, when the refuse service arrived as usual I asked one of the men to see if he could find it. He did, with a smile, at a house down the road, while the driver patiently waited. Which is why we always give those guys a bonus at the end of the year, despite the municipality’s injunction not to do so. They work hard, doing a shitty job, and deserve a bit extra.

When a bin is stolen you have to report it to the municipality through “contact us” or “Wastewise” and you will get an automated response telling you that your message has been received but you must provide a SAPS case number. If you are found to be negligent you will have to fork out R526 for a new 240-litre bin.

On the Sunday I went to the Milnerton police station, at 10.30am, there were two officers on duty at what is euphemistically called the Community Service Centre, and they were attending to three people.

One man had been assaulted and the other two were complaining about their stolen car.

By 11.30am I was still waiting to get to the complaints desk, as were the three other people.

I do not have the patience of Job, so we left. I was led to believe that an affidavit from a Commissioner of Oaths could be submitted instead. However, I was told that it had to be a police affidavit: this was confirmed by councillor for my ward, Fabian Ah-Sing and his assistant, Maureen Jangles.

Back I went to Milnerton police station on Tuesday where there was only one man on duty and a few people waiting. This time it didn’t take long for me to get to the desk, where I was told to take a seat on the bench, in front of the cubicles, with six other people who were waiting to give their statements. One policeman was busy with a complainant and the other cubicles were empty. The man I sat next to had been waiting for 40 minutes.

With that I drove to Bothasig police station where I got the affidavit done and dusted in 10 minutes. The officer said they would send the case number by SMS within two hours. I sent the details to “Wastewise” and received a response, from Carol, to say the bin would be delivered shortly. When is shortly? Wastewise didn’t reply to my email but the new bin was delivered the next day to my neighbour who signed for it.

Thanks to the wheelie bin thief I wasted hours of my time. In addition, I had to buy a chain and lock so I can secure the bin to the gate.

Mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg, said that if the 240-litre wheelie bin is damaged, for example by putting hot ash in the bin, the property owner will be held responsible for replacement costs. Bins must be placed on the pavement only on collection day.

“Under normal circumstances, if a bin is stolen on a non-collection day, the owner of the property will have to pay up,” Ms Limberg said.

It is all spelled out in the tariff policy that you can find on the website.“The requirement to report the matter to SAPS is linked to the fact that the bin remains the property of the City. All bins have now been fitted with a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID). If the bin is stolen and the customer does not or refuses to report it to SAPS, the municipality will replace the bin if required and then bill the property owner,” she said. Reporting the theft to SAPS will assist them in compiling crime statistics which will inform allocation of police resources.

The City also requires an affidavit to verify whether the customer was negligent.

“The email address is managed within Solid Waste Management in a back office. The seven days mentioned in their automated reply is linked to delivery of service and not only to the response time of replying to the customer.

“The bin is delivered by the operational staff at local depot level. The staff member (sometimes Carol) at Wastewise will create the order for the bin delivery but she does not manage the schedule and will not know when the bin will be delivered.

Once the order is created, it is directed to the correct depot for bin delivery.

The normal time-span for bin delivery is a maximum of seven working days, counted from when the order (service request) is created,” Ms Limberg explained.

Mr Ah-Sing said his office also got involved. Which is probably why my new bin was delivered five days after I reported the theft.