Protesters say councillor’s office will remain closed until their toilets are cleaned

Uitenhage residents say seven toilets for 500 people are “full of faeces” and unusable

Photo of a two men

Resident Lukhanyo Banana (left) told Councillor Simphiwe Ntsiza (EFF) his office will remain closed until toilets in Masakheni Sihlale informal settlements are cleaned. Behind the two men are rubble and burning tyres outside the councillor’s office. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

10 February 2020

About 150 shack dwellers from Masakheni Sihlale informal settlements in Khayelitsha, Uitenhage, burnt tyres outside the office of ward 43 Councillor Simphiwe Ntshiza (EFF) on Monday morning.

The protesters shut down the office saying it would not reopen until the toilets in their settlement are cleaned.

They are also demanding electrification and that site numbers be assigned to about 240 shacks.

Shacks went up next to Gawulayo, Cutshe, Kiva, Mabi, Sonto and Gqabi streets in February last year.

Last year in August, residents protested demanding mobile toilets. Seven toilets were eventually provided for the 500 residents.

But, says community leader Siyabulela Mbuqe: “Human waste is supposed to be collected twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays … Instead of cleaning the seven mobile toilets at least two times a week … the municipality collects human waste every two weeks.”

He said that since January residents have been avoiding the toilets “because they are now full of faeces”. He also said the toilets are too few and they get blown over in strong winds.

Community leader Siyakhumbula Pikini told the protesters outside the councillor’s office in Ntshiza’s presence: “We are not his friend. We want clean toilets, electricity and site numbers for our shacks.”

Resident Zoyisile Mpayipeli told Ntshiza: “We don’t get report backs and minutes of council meetings … You used to walk with us, but now you have turned your back on us.”

Ntshiza responded: “It’s good you reveal these things. But all these questions will be answered by the MMCs [mayoral committee members] of the directorate for Human Settlements and Infrastructure and Engineering … I cannot lie about things that won’t happen.”

Residents dispersed but said that only if they got answers would the office be reopened. They gave the council seven days.