13 September 2018

South Africa: Hostel Has One Toilet for 39 Households

"We are being undermined because we are staying in a hostel"

A municipal hostel in Pietermaritzburg houses up to 312 people sharing one functioning toilet. The hostel, Imbali Unit 2, has two toilets, but one is blocked. There are 39 small houses in the hostel, each with up to eight people inside.

The toilet that works was built by the residents.

Most hostel residents are forced to relieve themselves in a nearby field. Those with cars drive to a nearby garage to use its toilet.

Resident Ntuthuko Mazibuko said, "We use buckets to flush the waste [in the toilet]. Most of us living here are men. Relieving ourselves in the veld is embarrassing. It takes away our dignity,"

Hostel residents also complain that the area is surrounded by rubbish which lies uncollected for months. Mazibuko said numerous attempts to address the matter with the ward councillor had been fruitless.

Sihle Khumalo said the hostel, which is owned by the municipality, had not been serviced for years. He said families had moved out because of the unhygienic conditions. "A child cannot live here. There is rubbish in every corner of the hostel. There is a bad smell especially in summer. People come in trucks and dump the rubbish. There is a dumping area behind the houses. All the rubbish that has been dumped there falls behind the houses. ... Stones and tyres roll down and hit the houses. Half of the houses have been affected. The ward councillor knows but he has done nothing. He doesn't want to listen. We are being undermined because we are staying in a hostel," said Khumalo.

Ward councillor Caiphus Ndawonde said, "I didn't know that there is one toilet ... The municipality's management has promised to look at the matter of toilets."

On the issue of garbage he said, "I conduct meetings with the hostel residents. We have a committee. They know what the plans are about cleanliness ... They are not listening to me."

He said there was a plan to upgrade the hostel into flats.

The municipality did not respond by the time of publication.

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