9 August 2018

South Africa: Pit Latrines Not Serviced for Decades in Pietermaritzburg

"I have to hire at least four men to empty my toilet," says 78-year-old pensioner Natalia Ngidi. She is one of many residents of Snathing, Pietermaritzburg, who have to pay people to service their toilets because the municipality fails to do so.

"I recently paid them R300 ... That is the usual price," says Ngidi. "My toilet was built along with the RDP house in 1996. Ever since, the toilets have not been emptied [by the municipality]."

The men Ngidi hires dig out the long drop with spades and then take the waste away in wheelbarrows.

"Each time they come to empty the toilet, I warn the neighbours. I tell them to close their windows and doors," says Ngidi.

Ngidi lives with seven family members, three of them grandchildren, aged between one and three. Ngidi and other residents - such as the Zondi family of ten who live nearby and have two toilets, both full - say they have raised the issue repeatedly at community meetings. They say ward 11 councillor Sipho Madonda (ANC) promised that their toilets would be emptied.

In June 2016 residents held a protest against Madonda and threatened to torch his home. They accused him of only developing the area of the ward in which he lives. They did not want him to stand for re-election but he was re-elected.

A resident, who said he was a pastor, told GroundUp: "Toilets are [only] part of the problem ... Look around and see. The roads here are not tarred. We have no street lights. People get mugged every day. This area is not developed. These ward councillors are forever unavailable. They only come to people for votes."

Madonda told GroundUp: "I am aware of the problem. Residents have told me about the toilets. Plans for sorting out that problem are in the pipeline. Currently, I cannot specify on the time frame ... We want the matter fixed urgently. Unfortunately I cannot say when."

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