At least once a week for two years, Stacy de Wet’s son woke up in the mornings with blood all over his bedding. Most nights, he had to use a nebuliser just so that he could breathe.
For the mother-of-two, who lives in Kuils River near Cape Town, the culprit loomed a kilometre from her family’s home: the Cape Town Iron and Steel Works (Cisco), which produces steel from scrap using an electric arc furnace.
The steel mill was placed under care and maintenance in 2010. In June 2012, it was sold to a Turkish company, DHT Holdings Africa. De Wet’s son was five when the facility restarted in October 2017.
“When they were operating so hectically within those two years, the whole area stank permanently of metal and chemical fumes. The smoke and the fumes were hanging so thick it felt like you were in a fog,” said De Wet.