1 December 2017

South Africa: City Promises Mfuleni Shack Dwellers Toilets and Electricity in 2018

Photo: Vincent Lali/GroundUp
Nosive Sibhidla, who lives with her 14-year-old child, has been in Ligwa informal settlement since 2009.

About 45 families in Ligwa informal settlement in Mfuleni have no access to toilets. Community leader Yanga Jongilanga said the families have to use the public toilets at the Mfuleni taxi rank or ask owners of RDP houses nearby if they can use their toilets.

"RDP house owners are tired of letting us use their toilets. They say we finish their water and leave them with no water to flush their toilets," said Jongilanga.

"Two weeks ago criminals stole my TV and cellphone while I was using the toilet. Now I'm scared to leave my shack and go to the toilet at night," he said.

The settlement is also not yet electrified and the community relies on illegal connections. Jongilanga draws electricity from an RDP house nearby. "The house owner uses many electrical appliances and has many kids, so they finish electricity quickly, forcing me to spend R300 on electricity [per month] though I stay alone," he said.

He said officials visited the settlement and the City confirmed this. "We are living in hope," he said.

Nosive Sibhidla, who lives with her 14-year-old child, gets her electricity from a neighbour on Ligwa Street. "My neighbour told me not to use electrical appliances such as fridge, microwave and stove as they eat up lots of electricity. So I get electricity only to keep my shack illuminated at night," she said.

She cooks with a paraffin stove. She has been living in the informal settlement since 2009.

"Guards sometimes lock up the toilets [at the taxi rank] at six, so I must wait until they open them the following morning," she said. At night she uses a bucket to relieve herself. She then digs a trench and buries the waste.

Yoliswa Mfanekiso, who stays with her boyfriend and two small children, said she also goes to neighbours to ask to use their toilets.

For electricity, she spends R500 a month. "The house owner buys electricity only for R50 monthly. She refuses to buy again mid-month, saying she gets free electricity from government," said Mfanekiso.

"City officials showed us where the toilets would be located and marked out spots where they would be installed. We were happy," said Mfanekiso.

Councillor Xanthea Limberg confirmed that the City is busy designing the toilet installations. She said that a community liaison officer and 12 people had been appointed to install the toilets.

"The toilet installations are scheduled to take place in March 2018 and the roll-out of electricity for this area is scheduled for next year," said Limberg.

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