Deputy Minister Makhotso Sotyu hands-over 250 school desks made from invasive trees and 24 waste bins to two schools in Cape Town

14 February 2020

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms. Makhotso Sotyu led the hand-over of 250 desks made from invasive trees to Ukhanyo (Masiphumelele) and Perivale Primary Schools (Lotus River), Cape Town.

The Deputy Minister was joined by Deputy Minister of Human Settlement, Water and Sanitation, Ms Pam Tshwete and Advocate Hishaam Mohamed, MP.

Eco desks are made from the wood sourced from alien invasive plants cleared as part of the Working for Water programme. 

The programme is part of the Department’s Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) with a mandate to establish viable furniture factories where products needed by Government are manufactured.  Wood from alien invasive plants are used to manufacture high-quality products at lower cost, creating jobs for approximately 1 500 workers nationally. 

“By clearing these invasive plants that threaten our water security, we get wood that we use to manufacture desks. The environment benefits from less invasive while creating much needed jobs for our people. The eco desk programme shows the value of our environment in addressing social needs and as young people you should join us in protecting our environment,” said Deputy Minister Sotyu.

In a bid to conserve South Africa’s water resources, the Working for Water programme has made substantial effort to control invasive alien plant species that threaten the sustainability of our water resources, food security, wild fires, soil erosion, and many more.

Furthermore, the plants also use soil nutrients – as they grow fast and therefore use up large amounts of soil nutrients subsequently reducing the nutrients available for indigenous plants. Soft woods, like Pine, act as fuel for fires and tend to grow in dense thickets, these catch fire easily making the fire hotter than normal because there is more matter available to burn, which intensifies the damage caused by fires.

The programme also aims to gain water security through the clearing of invasive plant biomass from catchments which allows for increased water flows to downstream communities, as well as job creation and up-skilling of participants through the processing of the biomass into furniture which is used to meet Government’s service delivery mandate.

The Deputy Minster also encouraged learners to take responsibility for their environment and their schools where he also donated 24 (12 bins per school) colour-coded bins to encourage waste separation, garden tools, school shoes, sanitary pads, seeds for the gardens and trees for planting at the respective schools.

The event formed part of the department’s Back to School Programme that aims to encourage sound environment practices at schools while teaching learners to live in harmony with their environment.

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Albi Modise
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