17 May 2017

South Africa: Living With an Open Sewer for 15 Years

Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik/GroundUp
Duncan Village residents have been complaining about broken sewerage pipes in the area for more than 15 years.

A number of residents at Duncan Village Area 12B Informal Settlement in East London told GroundUp they have been living next to broken sewerage pipes for more than 15 years. They say they reported the problem to various ward councillors who told them that the municipality would fix the problem. They say promises were also made during the local elections last year.

When it rains, dirty water from the drains flows into shacks and the smell is unbearable. Close to 1,000 shack homes are affected. Community leader Akhona Klass said, "The municipality is dragging their feet in fixing the broken sewerage."

When GroundUp visited the area last week, Nomkhamelo Singwentu, 62, was sweeping away a pool of dirty water near her shack. Singwentu has lived in the informal settlement for 25 years.

"I'm getting sick of cleaning this dirty water," she said. "It's been 15 years living next to this broken sewerage."

A woman, who called herself Mambele and who has also been living in Duncan Village for over 20 years, said that when they started the informal settlement there were only a few shacks next to bushes.

Like other residents we spoke to, she has been hoping for all these years that the municipality would move her to another area and give her a proper house.

Ward 2 councillor Ntombizandile Mhlola said she is aware of the broken sewerage in Area 12B and she has reported it to Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM).

Spokesperson for BCMM Sibusiso Cindi also said they were aware of the broken pipes. he said they were caused by "decaying infrastructure and vandalism". He said new sewerage pipes were being installed in the surrounding areas.

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