Joburg to spend millions to fight rat epidemic

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File: A rat hides inside a drain. A one month-old baby whose three fingers and part of a nose were eaten by rats in Alexandra, Johannesburg is awaiting surgery as her family cannot afford it.

JOHANNESBURG - The City of Johannesburg has put aside R2.5-million to fight the scourge of rodents, the municipality said on Tuesday.

"In recent years rodents have become a challenge in certain areas of Johannesburg such as informal settlements and overcrowded buildings in the inner city," said Nonceba Molwele, member of the mayoral committee for health.

She said the municipality had developed a plan to eradicate the rat infestation in Johannesburg.

"This strategy focuses on the effectiveness of biological and cultural control factors. The use of chemicals is only as and when needed and within a minimum."

She said 28,400 rats were caught in Alexandra since a rat cage project was piloted in March 2012. It had since been expanded to all seven regions of the municipality.

"The City of Johannesburg is confident that we can beat the rats through our prevention and clean-up operations, but we need the participation and support of all residents to look after their own immediate environment," she said.

- Sapa