Tale of a Township Stream


Ntombenhle Mtambo, Penz Malinga and Tutu Zuma admire grasses beside the uMthimzima River. Photo: Nikki Brighton

The guard at Midmar Nature Reserve Thurlow gate was puzzled when four women turned up in the drizzle and told him they were going for a walk. “In the rain?” he asked. “Well, it is only water, we won’t melt” was the quick response. The members of the Mpophomeni Conservation Group thought the weather pretty perfect for exploring the uMthinzima River from the spot it enters Midmar all the way through Mpophomeni township to the hills where it rises.

The Autumn grasses glowed in the low light – Hyperennia, Sporobolus, Ngongoni, iNthunga. Tall reeds lined the banks. “You can make anything from these reeds. My mother used to make great mats.” Ntombenhle Mtambo said. “She liked to use iKwazi because it was the strongest, or iNcema. iNgobosi has the most beautiful colours, but was not very strong.” The stream looked really murky. “The reed beds clean the water, so the e-coli count is a lot lower here than further up.” Penz Malinga explained. “We’ll note all the impacts on the river and observe how the water quality changes as we go.”

Apparently, there used to be houses right in the wetland. During the floods of 1999, most of the houses were destroyed and people lived in tents until new houses were built for them on higher ground. There is a perennial problem of blocked, broken pipes over flowing in Mpophomeni and the smell of sewage is strong near the river. Around Cabazini there are fewer cattle and lots of Leucosidea serica (Ouhout). “You can tell we are getting to the more rural area” commented Ntombehle. “Rural people take much better care of the water because they use it for cooking and drinking.”

Emashingeni, where the river rises, is surrounded by cliffs and forested ravines. There was plenty of Leonotis leonorus in flower attended by sunbirds – living up to its Zulu name utshwala bezinyoni. Here the uMthinzima is a beautiful stream gurgling over rocks, the banks covered in indigenous vegetation. Penz was excited to discover Caddis Flies, illustrating that the water was unpolluted. “It is unbelievable that only a few kilometres away the water is so polluted.” commented Tutu Zuma. “We should bring our Kidz Club members for a picnic. They would love it and they would see the importance of taking good care of our water.”

Read the full story at:
http://midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/exploring-the-umthinzima-through-mpophomeni/ Mpophomeni Conservation Group is supported by N3 Toll Concession through the Midlands Conservancies Forum.

Supplied by info@midlandsconservancies.org.za