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Probe launched after powerful herbicide sprayed in Noordhoek

The City of Cape Town has suspended the spraying of herbicide after it received complaints from residents.

In Nassau Road, Noordhoek, City workers sprayed the herbicide on the sidewalk, which is a few metres from a small river. Picture: Supplied.

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town is investigating after a powerful herbicide was widely sprayed in the Noordhoek and Kommetjie area.

Several concerned residents have complained, as the herbicide was used in built-up and ecologically sensitive areas.

The City has suspended the spraying of the Kilo Max herbicide after it received complaints from Noordhoek residents.

Locals claim the herbicide, which contains glyphosate, a chemical that is potentially harmful, was sprayed during the breeding season of the endangered Western Cape leopard toad.

Noordhoek ward councillor Felicity Purchase says usually the weed killer is only sprayed in June, outside of the breeding months.

"This time of the year, during August, particularly when they started, it was unfortunate because that was the beginning of the breeding season for the leopard toad."

Meanwhile, the City says its workers and contract employees are always supposed to wear protective gear when dealing with hazardous material.

However, pictures taken by residents show workers handling the herbicide without gloves and face masks.

Purchase says this shouldn't have been the case.

"It came to light immediately that the contractors appeared not to use protective clothing, which they have to wear in terms of the contract. These are normal occupational safety regulations that we will take up."

Poison expert Gerhard Verdoorn says this is unacceptable.

"When I hear that people have sprayed pesticide without protective clothing, I get very angry. The principle in the agri arena is that it doesn't matter whether you spray a high or low toxic compound, you should always wear protective clothing. For instance, an overall, rubber boots, gloves, facial cover and a hat."

Purchase adds the City is investigating and will take the matter up with the company contracted to carry out the spraying.

Pictures supplied by Noordhoek residents.