21 June 2019

South Africa: Over 150 Households Share Three Toilets

Hundreds of residents in Angola informal settlement, Kliptown, have been sharing three communal toilets for the past decade.

The chemical toilets do not flush, and there are no taps for people to wash their hands after going to the toilet. The toilets also do not lock. They stand on a filthy, heavily littered site.

Agnes Mofokeng, who is in her 80s, has lived in Angola for 29 years. She says, "The worst part is that, although they clean them [toilets], you can't see any improvement. They are cleaned in the morning, on both Monday and Thursday, but by evening they have already filled up. Even where they are placed ... it's near a dump site."

"The boys who smoke nyaope close themselves inside these toilets at night. They dirty the seats; vomit on them; and we wake up to such a mess every day, because they do not lock," says Mofokeng. "We are forced to relieve ourselves in buckets ... We need flushing and locked toilets, so that we can also feel human."

Mofokeng says she applied for an RDP house in the 1990s. "I am just waiting for my death ... I have given up on getting a new house of my own."

Her grandchildren now share her shack with her.

Julia Sgode, resident since 2012, says people empty their buckets at night right next to her shack.

"The smell fills my shack, and my children and I breathe the poo every day. I have tried to address it with my neighbours, but no one is willing to stop this," says Sgode.

"I don't want to even mention the toilets. We sit on other people's amasimba (shit), on a daily basis ... Maybe the government has forgotten about Kliptown. it seems like no one cares. Even our electricity here is izinyoka [illegal connections]. It poses a danger to our children," said Sgode.

Ward 17 Councillor Peter Rafferty (DA) said, "Unfortunately, there has never been any money set aside to build new toilets or improve them in Kliptown. I can also not say when people can expect better sanitation. However, I know that the City is making plans to build new toilets for the whole area."

Questions sent to spokesperson for the City, Nthatise Modingoane, on 11 June and followed up a week later have gone unanswered.

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