More than 30 families share one pit toilet at this Durban informal settlement

Residents say eThekwini Municipality has failed to fix most of the toilets in the area which are blocked and broken

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More than 30 families share one of these four pit toilets at Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban. The community built the pit toilets because most of the toilets installed by the eThekwini Municipality are currently blocked or broken. Photo: Manqulo Nyakombi

The eThekwini Municipality says it will soon send teams to Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban following reports that more than 30 families there are forced to share one pit toilet.

GroundUp recently visited the informal settlement and spoke to dozens of residents who complained about their dire sanitation facilities. They say that most of the toilets built by the municipality are blocked and broken. As a result of this, some families have resorted to building their own pit latrines.

According to residents, the land was first occupied in 2013 by people who had been living in backyards. The settlement has grown since then and currently has about 600 shacks.

Community leader Ndumiso Mhlongo said the settlement has about 16 flush toilets installed by the municipality, but only three of those are working. “The rest are either blocked or broken,” he said.

Mhlongo said when they complained about the blocked toilets three years ago, instead of fixing the toilets, the municipality sent three mobile toilets. He said the mobile toilets were meant to be cleaned at least twice a week, but this did not happen regularly.

Mhlongo said one of the mobile toilets has not been cleaned for almost two years. “People got fed up with begging the municipality to clean the toilets. They have decided to build their own toilets,” said Mhlongo.

“A few people have pit toilets next to their shacks, but as a community we decided to build the four you see. Men dug holes and we used old material as a cover. He said over 30 families share one of the four pit toilets,” he said.

Resident Sabelo Ntlenyama said that before they built the pit toilets, women had to relieve themselves in buckets or plastic bags and then threw it in bins. “That became a problem because the rubbish is also not collected here. We ended up burning it,” he said.

“These pit toilets are also not enough for this community. In the mornings people queue at these toilets,” he said.

Bajikile Mkhize, who cleans the three functioning municipal toilets, complained that she does not have cleaning material. She said the municipality is aware of the blocked and broken toilets.

Head of communications at eThekwini Municipality, Lindiwe Khuzwayo, said all the issues raised by residents have now been reported to the relevant units. She promised that teams will be sent to investigate the situation but did not say when this would happen.

TOPICS:  Sanitation

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