“My house smells like a toilet”

City of Cape Town’s janitorial programme has left Siyahlala and other informal settlements unserviced for over a year

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Photo of a toilet
Residents of Siyahlala informal settlement in Philippi East are begging the City of Cape Town to unblock and fix toilets like this one and deploy janitors to clean them. Photo: Vincent Lali

With the janitorial program for informal settlements in the City of Cape Town frozen because of lack of inoculations for janitors, communities have been struggling for more than a year with filthy toilets.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements Councillor Xanthea Limberg said, “Each of these janitors needs to be inoculated against hepatitis prior to commencing their duties … Due to a change in ownership of the previous service provider for the provision of these inoculations, the City was required to terminate the tender.”

The City had put out three requests for quotations, but had failed to get a service provider, she said. “A fourth request for quotation is currently underway, and we are hopeful … The City has tasked depot staff with cleaning toilets as far as possible,” said Limberg.

Meanwhile, shack dwellers in Siyahlala informal settlement beside Sheffield Road, Philippi East, put up with the stench of filthy, overflowing toilets

Resident Nomonde Ngamlana said, “One block of toilets is not enough to serve hundreds of residents who are forced to use it as they have no alternative.” She said shack dwellers from a nearby area also used the toilets.

Zikhona Mqalo, owner of the Anathi Tuckshop, said she used to clean the toilets but “residents shit in buckets inside their shacks and dump their waste in the toilets along with rotten food. I can’t cope with the filth”.

“Sometimes my house smells as if I’m staying in a toilet,” she said.

Justice Kawuta and two other residents say they volunteered three months ago to clean the toilets. Kawuta said they covered their hands with plastic bags because they had no gloves.

“We stopped doing the voluntary work because the City ignored us, and we got scared of contracting diseases. We were hoping the City would notice our good work and hire us as janitors,” said Kawuta.

Community leader Ndumiso Ndodana said, “I’m confused because City janitors do clean toilets in nearby areas, but they don’t come to our toilets.”

“We don’t know how to unblock the toilets, so we want the City to help us unblock them,” said Ndodana.

TOPICS:  Sanitation

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