Khayelitsha creche hoping for flush toilets at last

| Barbara Maregele
Zodwa Mdiko gives a morning lesson at Suphumelela Day Care Centre where children have been using two buckets as toilets. Photo by Barbara Maregele.

The founder of Suphumelela Day Care in Khayelitsha is hoping city officials will provide portable toilets for the creche children, who have been using buckets for a year.

The 25 children in the Site C creche range from infants to five-year-olds. They use two five litre buckets to relieve themselves and the teachers empty the buckets in toilets about 200 metres from the creche.

When GroundUp went to the creche on Monday, several children were seated around two tables in the small wood and iron structure. One of the buckets next to the wall was already filled with urine.

Creche founder Zodwa Mdiko said she opened the creche in 2013 after parents in the area approached her for help.

“There wasn’t anyone to look after children in this area. The parents came to me and asked me to help them. We moved to this (new) shack in February because when I applied to the City for a toilet at the old location last year, they told me we were too close to the road. I went to the City’s health offices where I got a letter to say I need the toilet because the creche is growing every month,” she said.

Mdiko said she feared for the health of the children and her staff.

“We have two buckets for all the children. Because the toilets are so far, we only empty the buckets once they are full. It’s really bad. We are suffering here. The smell can get so bad when it’s hot. The older children know that they must use a toilet, so they always ask why they have to use the buckets,” she said.

Mdiko said the creche also needed building materials and stationery.

“It’s winter soon and there are holes in our roof. It can get very full in here so we need material to make the place bigger. At the moment we only have one window which isn’t safe for the children. Most of the parents just pay R100 a month, so we don’t have enough money to buy new things for the children,” she said.

Mdiko said she was in the process of registering with the department of Social Development.

She is also due to graduate with her level five certificate in education next month.

Approached by GroundUp on Tuesday, the City’s Mayco member for Utility Services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said officials would visit the creche this week and portable flush toilets could be provided.

Sonnenberg could not confirm Mdiko’s correspondence with city officials.

But he said: “The City officials will visit the creche by the end of the week to confirm that they want the toilets and how many they need. Once it’s confirmed, delivery will take place almost immediately,” he said.

Sonnenberg said the City had provided more than 130 portable flush toilets to 30 creches in areas including Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Philippi East over the past year.

“The City provides other sanitation types to creches in informal settlements across the city. In the past two weeks, two flush toilets have been installed at a creche in Dunoon,” he said.

The Social Justice Coalition’s Axolile Notyawala said the situation at the creche was worrying.

“She (Mdiko) came to us about two weeks ago after the City’s health offices referred her to us for help. For 25 children to be using two buckets as toilets is not healthy or safe for them and the teachers working there.The distance between the structure and the toilets is very far to walk,” he said.

Notyawala said there were many other people in informal settlements still using buckets.

“Many people use buckets at night and throw away the waste during the day. This is the case in many informal settlements in Cape Town. People have given up fighting for toilets and just accepted that they have to use the buckets, which isn’t right,” he said.

TOPICS:  Health Human Rights Sanitation Society

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