10 taps for 1,000 families in Wallacedene

Broken drains, blocked toilets, filthy water in the streets

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Photo of woman raking stagnant water
Athembe Nondana uses a rake to clear dirty water and rubbish from the path near her shack. Photo: Vincent Lali

About 1,000 families get water from around 10 water taps after thieves stole about 25 taps in the temporary relocation area in Wallacedene, according to community leader Thembelani Mzola.

The TRA houses former shack dwellers from Wallacedene. Some shack dwellers have been moved to RDP houses. But, according to ward councillor Simphiwe Nonkeyizana, others who did not have the necessary documents were moved by the City of Cape Town to the TRA while they applied for the documents.

He said some now do have the necessary papers and must be moved to RDP houses.

But Nonkeyizana acknowledged that not all the shack dwellers could be accommodated in the nearby Maroela housing project.

Meanwhile they want their water connections fixed and their communal toilets cleaned.

Residents of Wallacedene want toilets and taps fixed. Photo: Vincent Lali

Mzola said criminals stole the water taps and sold them to hardware stores.

“The City doesn’t re-install the taps after they have been stolen,” he said.

As a result, shack dwellers were making their own water connections.

“Some residents connect their water pipes to the toilet pipes and draw water to their shacks. Others connect to their neighbours’ pipes,” Mzola said.

Mzola said some of the shack dwellers’ pipes were not properly installed and burst.

“When we ask City officials to repair the burst water pipes, they say they don’t fix water pipes that have been illegally connected,” he said.

He said the toilets and the sinks outside the toilets were blocked. “City officials don’t come to unblock them. Officials don’t maintain toilets and sinks here,” he said.

Athembe Nondana, 32, has installed a water tap in the shack where she lives with her husband and three children.

She used her child support grants to buy water pipes and hire a plumber to connect them to nearby block of toilets. Now, she says, she no longer has to get water from the outside tap near the toilet, which is surrounded by human excrement.

When GroundUp visited the informal settlement, Nondana was using a rake to remove stagnant water from the path outside her shack.

Zine Makhwenkwe, 35, gets water from her neighbour who has connected water pipes to a nearby block of toilets.

Celiwe Gontshi and community leader Thobani Mathole show GroundUp the rubbish behind their blocked toilets. Photo: Vincent Lali

Celiwe Gontshi, 41, lives with her husband and her four children in a shack beside toilets which have been blocked and flooded for almost a month, she says.

Stagnant water, filthy with human waste, lies outside the toilets.

“You must wear gumboots if you want to enter those toilets and relieve yourself, otherwise the water will soil your feet and shoes,” says Gontshi.

Lungisa Ncaba, 28, also lives near the toilets, with his cousin and his two kids.

The yard has been flooded with dirty water from a broken drain for about two weeks, he says, and the shack is swarming with flies and maggots.

“Because nearby toilets are blocked, kids shit in a bucket. We have no place to dump it,” he said.

Lungisa Ncaba’s yard has been flooded with filthy water. Photo: Vincent Lali

Community leader Thobani Mathole said City plumbers did fix the broken drains but the drains soon blocked up again.

Excrement and dirty water was flowing down the path when GroundUp visited.

Thando Tyhalibongo, City of Cape Town’s Media Manager, said: “City of Cape Town intends to examine the extent of illegal water connections, sewage drains and other defective services in the Wallacedene TRA.”

He said all reported complaints had been dealt with and a supervisor would visit the area to identify and report any new problems.

Tyhalibongo said the City’s toilet cleaning programme would start in the area soon.

New janitors would be signing employment contracts and receiving vaccinations this week, he said.

TOPICS:  Housing Human Rights

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