Mandela Park families approved a sample toilet in 2008. 15 years later, they’re still waiting for the rest

Residents of Eastern Cape informal settlement say they’re not going to vote unless they get their promised toilets

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Mazwalinzima Mzizi stands next to the sample toilet that residents have allowed him to use since it is near his shack. Everyone else is still waiting for the toilets they were promised. Photo: Loyiso Dyongman

  • A sample toilet was handed over by the municipality to families in Mandela Park in Alicedale, Eastern Cape, in 2008, for approval.
  • They say they were told that if they liked it, more toilets would be provided, one for each household.
  • But 15 years later, the only toilet in the informal settlement is the sample they were given in 2008.
  • One family uses it. The rest use the bushes.

In 2008 Makana municipal councillors handed over one toilet to residents of Mandela Park informal settlement. They said it was a sample and if residents approved it, they’d be back with more toilets, one for every household. But 15 years later, there’s still only that one sample toilet in this informal settlement in Alicedale.

Residents of Mandela Park, which is about 50km from Makhanda, say they’re not going to vote in next year’s elections unless they get their toilets.

They say that in 2008 councillors for the Makana Municipality came to the informal settlement and handed over a single sample toilet for the residents. Residents were happy and gave the municipality their approval. The municipality promised them that it would come back and build toilets for each of the households in the informal settlement. But that promise was never kept.

Khayalethu Nyamakazi of the ward committee and Alicedale Ex-Political Detainees Organisation, said the community had agreed that the family whose house was nearest to the toilet would keep the toilet as their own. Other residents would use the bush while they waited for the promised toilets. They are still doing so.

“To date we are living a zero toilet life”

Ward councillor Vuyani Nesi, who left the ANC to stand as an independent in 2021 and won the ward, confirmed the history. He said before he started as a ward councillor in Alicedale, a construction company from East London had built a sample toilet. “Residents were happy with the sample toilet and gave the go-ahead to the construction of the toilets. I think it’s about 15 years since the sample toilet was installed there,” said Nesi.

“In terms of the budget there is no clear indication of when they will get toilets.”

Esther Xoliswa Mahe said she had Alicedale for years. “It’s been years we’ve been stuck without toilets here and the municipality is not doing anything about that. It is a disgusting trauma to relieve ourselves in water buckets because we have no toilets. We live with that stinking waste inside our houses until it is dark so we are able to throw it outside.

“This results in a horrible odour that at times causes wars among neighbours. We put the blame solemnly on the municipality,” said Mahe.

She said government officials are aware of their conditions but only make vague promises. If no-one comes forward to save Alicedale, she said, residents would not vote next year.

Resident Mazwalinzima Mzizi said they were not treated the same way as Makhanda even though they all fall under the same municipality. “Here in Alicedale, we don’t have anything. Service delivery is not done here,” said Mzizi.

Resident Nomfusi Zondani also from Mandela Park said it’s been a very long time that they have been living on empty promises.

“To date we are living a zero toilet life,” said resident Nomfusi Zondani. “In 2008, the councillor at that time brought us a toilet sample. We accepted it but nothing happened after that … Even with the new councillor, we received no results.”

Zondani said people risked being mocked or attacked when they used the bush as a toilet. “We want to send a strong message to our government of ‘No service delivery, No vote!’,” said Zondani.

Sindiswa Maguma said there is a dire need for toilets, water, and electricity. “We have to go to the bush which is some distance from our houses when we want to relieve ourselves. Sometimes kids mock us,” said Sindiswa Maguma, who is 73.

She said Alicedale residents keep voting but never benefit.

Questions sent by GroundUp to municipal spokesperson Yoliswa Ramokolo last week were not answered.

TOPICS:  Local government Sanitation

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