More than 20 families share one pit toilet in this East London settlement

The municipality has plans to relocate them once suitable land is identified

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The Buffalo City Metro Municipality has plans to relocate families living at C2 informal settlement near East London city centre. Many of the residents are unemployed. Photos: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Vuyiswa Booi, 61, moved to C2 informal settlement near East London city centre in 2005 and has had to rebuild her shack more than five times due to fires. “We are not getting any help from the municipality,” she said.

Booi said she again lost all her belongings in a fire last month because their shacks are not formally connected to electricity. “I’m left with what I’m wearing,” she said. The home she rebuilt has holes and leaks when it rains. She relieves herself in a 20-litre bucket and empties it behind her shack.

“There are no taps, so we rely on dirty water from a pipe but it’s far from here. We don’t even know where that water comes from. Sometimes the water comes out dirty and smells like a drain,” she said.

She said the only benefit of living at C2 is its proximity to the clinic where she collects her medication and to town for job opportunities.

Families living there will be relocated once suitable land is identified, according to the Buffalo City Metro Municipality.

The community was established in the early 1990s but is now overcrowded. According to residents, 20 families share one pit toilet and the rest use the bushes. They rely on illegal connections for electricity. There are currently about 500 shacks at C2.

Most young people rely on waste picking to survive. Some sell sweets in town.

“I came here looking for a job. I live with a family member who has been living here for years, said 27-year-old Siphelele Myokwana. He is a welder and has been making chairs to sell to bargain stores. “We are all here during the week, which is proof of unemployment in this informal settlement,” he said.

Municipal spokesperson Bathandwa Diamond said the City had recently conducted a study of informal settlements and recommended that residents of C2 be relocated. The land they are living on is not suitable for development, she said. She did not provide details on when they would be moved.

Diamond said the City is currently doing a land audit in the metro, looking for parcels of land in well located areas to house people. “This will also assist in curbing land invasion in our metro,” she said.

This pit toilet is shared by 20 families. Other residents relieve themselves in buckets and the surrounding bush.

TOPICS:  Housing

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