There has been a dramatic drop in the number of incidents related to the use of illegal pesticides, largely thanks to interventions by City Health, but there is still much work to be done to completely eradicate the problem. The City calls on residents to play their part to assist in curbing this dangerous practice.

The City of Cape Town is aware that, as rodent season peaks, many residents may be tempted to take matters into their own hands by resorting to the use of illegal and often dangerous pesticides.

Poison- Clip art from WORD

This potentially dangerous practice has been rife in the past, however the City’s Environmental Health section has a number of measures in place to reduce the use of pesticides and thus limit residents’ exposure to associated risks. These measures include ongoing public education and awareness drives as well as the confiscation of illegal pesticides together with the City’s Law Enforcement Department, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Department of Agriculture. This has resulted in the pesticide poisoning incidence rate for the city dropping from 1,45 in 2007/8 to 0,28 per 100,000 in 2013/14.

The City does, however, realise that there is still work to be done to curb the sale and use of illegal pesticides.

‘Our experience has shown that traders decant poisons into unlabelled containers, especially in the informal market and sell these to members of the public. The risk of toxicity exposure happens during unsafe handling and storage of pesticides, as well as accidental exposure of children and pets when they make contact with the poison at home,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Health, Councillor Lungiswa James.

During a recent raid in Khayelitsha, Environmental Health officials, assisted by the City’s Law Enforcement Department and the SAPS confiscated a number of labelled and unlabelled poisons, including Aldicarb, rodenticide and Green Leaf cockroach powder.

Apart from carrying out the raids, staff of the City’s Environmental Health section:

  • Educate the public about chemical exposure risks
  • Engage in rodent control through and extensive block baiting campaigns
  • Promote effective waste management practices in partnership with other relevant departments.

‘We also inform traders about the dangers of selling these products. While most traders tend to cooperate with our officials, there are those who have taken to hiding their supplies and only selling them on request, making it more difficult to spot the repeat offenders,’ added Councillor James.

City Health would once again like to appeal to communities to be aware of the risk of illegal pesticides, refuse to buy unlabelled products, and to report the sale of any illegal pesticide products to their nearest Environmental Health Office. If residents are unsure about whether a particular product is illegal, they are encouraged to check with the City’s Environmental Health section.