Coinciding with World Oceans Day, PhD candidate and environmental activist, Ms Refilwe Mofokeng, organised two clean-up events in Durban intended to influence people’s opinions on the treatment of litter, particularly plastic.
The first was a recycling drive on UKZN’s Westville campus during which 40 volunteers spent almost two hours collecting 200kg of litter and learning about recycling drives that could contribute to solving pollution problems on campus.
‘We hope to involve other campuses in recycling and start monthly clean-ups,’ said Mofokeng, who is also an educator. She plans to approach businesses and potential partners to work with her organisation, perhaps even hosting inter-university competitions.
The second event was a harbour clean-up during which more than 200 volunteers from all walks of life joined Mofokeng and other volunteers to clear litter; collecting 400 bags which amounted to half a ton of refuse.
A PhD candidate in the School of Life Sciences, Mofokeng is passionate about education, ensuring that she incorporates education in her events to influence a psychological change in people’s approach to litter, thereby having an exponential effect. She has spearheaded beach clean-ups ahead of the festive season and a clean up after a severe storm in Durban in October 2017. ‘The dream is to have a sustainable South Africa by 2020,’ she said.
Mofokeng established the Refilwe Mofokeng Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) to execute her vision and through which she arranges clean-up events, measures the effects of pollution on marine life, assists with school food gardens and gives motivational speeches. She hopes these activities will help counter issues of pollution and littering; preventing them rather than attempting to fix the consequences.
Words: Christine Cuénod
Photograph: Itumeleng Masa