1 August 2018

South Africa: Rats and Raw Sewage Part of Daily Life in Dunoon

Madlomo Ndamane says she spends most of her day sweeping away sewage water at the entrance to the one-roomed shack where she lives with her six young foster children. The public sewer drains are blocked near her home at Mnandi Avenue, Dunoon. Nearly every morning she wakes up to a road littered with human faeces and rubbish.

Directly behind her home are rows of communal toilets. When GroundUp visited Ndamane in July, she was outside her shack, raking dirt and foul-smelling water from the entrance. Nearby, young children were seen playing in the dirty water.

Resident Phila Mbono says her creche is also suffering because parents do not want to "expose their children to an unhealthy environment like this". Mbono says that when the public drains are blocked, sewage bubbles up in her toilet, shower and kitchen sink.

Rere Maleiane, who owns a hair salon down, said, "We walk through raw sewage and speeding taxis splash us with sewage. When we return home we come with the stench. The smell is all over the houses and in our blankets. It's everywhere."

Residents say they have been reporting the problem to the City of Cape Town for the past two months.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services said the City "worked diligently to unblock the sewers in Dunoon".

"The recent illegal occupation of the sports field site has closed access for sanitation vehicles trying to access and service the sand traps and mainline under the field, which is exacerbating problems in the area," she said.

Limberg said the City has set aside a budget of R5 million to reroute sewers to resolve the recurring blockages in Dunoon. She said the blockages we caused by manholes being vandalised and foreign objects dumped in the sewer system.

Residents also complain that uncollected rubbish stored in shipping containers on the roadside has caused a rat and cockroach infestation. Mbono says at night, rats often ransacked her groceries and "nibbled on children's toes in bed".

She said rat poison, which was meant to be provided by the City, was being sold at a local spaza shop.

Mayoral Committee Member for Social Services, JP Smith, said the City's environmental health team investigated the claims and confiscated packages of rat poison being sold illegally at a local spaza shop. "An investigation will be launched into the source of the poison, but there is no indication at this stage that the illegally packaged poison was obtained from the City," he said.

Limberg said that the City's health department was aware of the rat concerns in Dunoon. She said the City has installed an additional 570 block-baiting points throughout the Dunoon area in the past financial year and a further 77 points in Dunoon since 1 July.

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