12 May 2017

South Africa: Blocked Toilets Make Life Unbearable for Masiphumelele Wetlands Residents

"We want to see this fixed permanently so we can stay in a clean space where the children can play and people can access sanitation"

Residents of Z section in the wetlands informal settlement in Masiphumelele have for the past months been living with blocked toilets. Faeces lie all over the place.

Two weeks ago the problem got worse.

The area has 12 toilets which are now all blocked. The smell is unbearable. Yet small children play near the faeces. Residents cannot use one of the taps and have to go to other sections to use taps and toilets, or they use buckets at home.

Lindela Sikhonda, Z section community leader, said that since afire last year February the area has been like that. "The toilets will block and be fixed. Then the same day they would block again but now they have just gotten worse."

"It is a bad situation because that was the open space where our children played. It is where the taps are but now people can't access the taps," he said. Officials at the City of Cape Town told him that the blockages were caused by people discarding debris behind the toilets after the fire in order to make space to rebuild their shacks. This debris has blocked the pipes.

"What I don't understand is why the City does not send a truck to remove that debris so that we can see whether that was the problem or not. We want to see this fixed permanently so we can stay in a clean space where the children can play and people can access sanitation," said Sikhonda.

Resident Nozibele Qika does not stay far from the toilets she said the smell is too much. "How do you eat when there is such a smell, we can't even drink the water coming from the taps because there are faeces everywhere," she said. Qika said she has to go to another section to fetch water. Also many people with friends in formal housing go there to use toilets.

The City said that it is currently investigating the matter and will respond in due course.

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