Rat infestation in Alexandra near Sandton in Jozi is a big problem. So much so, that the charity Lifeline has offered a cellphone to anyone who catches 60 rats.
Regular readers may recall that we published a piece earlier this year that explored the role that owls play in eradicating rats in Alex, and how they were being used to deal with this problem, as well as educate the youth.
The drawback from this, however, is that people kill owls because of traditional beliefs that they are to be feared.
But there is another solution being tried at the moment – free phones for rats.
The Mail and Guardian paints the picture of “rivers of rats” coming out of their hiding places at night in Alex to feast on anything and everything, including children’s fingers:
The area provides all the conditions rats need to thrive. The sewerage system and taps leak, dumped food keeps them fat and piles of rubble give them space for palatial rat homes. At night, still-warm car engines provide them with heat. With human overcrowding and a huge growth in Alexandra’s population, the rat population has been booming and locals are now terrified of the rodents.
It was initially reported that 8ta was responsible for the initiative of offering a free phone for every 60 rats captured, but yesterday, Pynee Chetty, an 8ta spokesman denied it was they who were responsible:
You will have to ask Lifeline why they decided to use these promotional products. They do a lot of good community work, including in Alexandra. They used the promotional material to incentivise members of the community. I wasn’t aware this is how they were going to resolve the problem [of rats]. We won’t distance ourselves from Lifeline. It is a charity that does a lot of good work and our support for them is steadfast. I don’t want to deny the story. What I’m saying is that it’s not our initiative.
A favourite for rats are used condoms, and according to Leo Ndabambi, who was born and raised in Alex, the biggest rats eat them after they have been used, to gain humans’ knowledge.
This is why some people think they are maybe so clever.
Rat killing has become a sport too according to Ndabambi, who has photos of children attacking rats in a bag of rubbish with sharpened sticks.
The Mail and Guardian caught up with William Malothane and Joseph Mothapo, who were eager to show off their catches contained in cages – both had cages full of rats, and were heading to the local athletics arena that rewards people for capturing or killing rats.
It’s easy. You put your left-over food inside and the rats climb inside, getting caught as the trap door closes.
Mothapo’s haul for the night was 23, and he’d already exchanged previous rat hauls for two phones, adding that he wanted to get one for each family member.
Ashford Sidzumo is responsible for gassing the rats at the sports centre, and says he has killed thousands already. On one night this October, he receieved a total of 106 rats.
We record all the people’s details so we can see where the rats are causing the biggest problem. We use this to send fumigation teams there.
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