Children play with garbage and roaming goats eat rubbish at what was once a local playground. Residents of eMhlabeni, uMlazi, say dumping and even human waste from a blocked sewage drain has been accumulating. The community burn the rubbish when it becomes unbearable, a task which few volunteer to carry out.
Zilungile Ntuli, who has been living in the area for 21 years, says service delivery has steadily deteriorated. "When you walk around this community, it's like we don't exist under a municipality. We haven't had any satisfying service delivery for years. All that we have as proof of a municipality are the communal toilets, which are both blocked and unsafe."
Anna Sikhakhane said, "All day you have to keep guard and shout at the kids not to play there because it's not safe. We have even recommended using industrial dustbins, big enough for the community. That way there'd at least be one dumping point."
Another resident, Celinhlanhla Duze, said he felt the eMhlabeni community is intentionally ignored. "We had raised the lack of service delivery in countless community meetings for years ... The municipality has even created a WhatsApp group to address concerns in the community. It was supposed to make service delivery and complaints dealt with quicker but it too is a waste of time. There are always new excuses to why they cannot give the people what they deserve.
"The damaged road, which is the only entry to this area, is their current defence, claiming that they cannot help us until the road is fixed. I cannot remember the last time I took a breath of fresh air in my own home. Fumes from the blocked sewer and rubbish is all you get to breath."
Sibusiso Maphumulo, eMhlabeni ward councillor, said it was the community's duty to keep the area clean. "People should stop shifting blame to the municipality. All these problems can be resolved by the community. By simply working together and changing their behavioural ways and taking care of the places they live in. We are not responsible for people's cleanliness but are only there to provide services when needed," said Maphumulo.
"If the residents stopped discarding waste irresponsibly and instead use the right points to place rubbish, they would not have this problem. They do not use the correct dumping points. They dump anywhere every day and we only pick up rubbish twice a week.
"People of eMhlabeni must also understand that everyone was affected by the heavy storm and they are lying for saying we are doing nothing," he said with regards to the condition of the road.
"Should residents want to initiate another community-led clean up of the area, the City will be able to provide bags and dispose of the refuse once they have collected it," he said.
eThekwini Municipality' had not responded at the time of publication.