Toilet mess in Khayelitsha - SJC demands service delivery contracts

| Mary-Anne Gontsana
Children play inside one of the blue chemical toilets in Khayelitsha which has fallen over. Photo by Axolile Notywala.

The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) is demanding access to information on service delivery agreements in Khayelitsha.This follows the breakdown of some outdoor toilets which the organisation fears is a result of the service delivery organisation contracted by the City failing to do its job.

The SJC wants access to service delivery contracts which includes information about the blue chemical toilets in the township’s BM Section.

SJC’s Axolile Notywala said they had received information from the City of Cape Town about contractors responsible for the BM toilets. “After receiving information last week we decided to go on site to take a look at the toilets and we found that some of them had fallen to the ground. When we questioned residents about this, some blamed the strong winds and others blamed children who played around the toilet area.

“We found that the toilets were not fixed to the ground so it was easy for them to fall over. What we want is an audit which will tell us whether the work done was done properly and correct measures were taken. We have been liaising with the mayor’s office about getting the updated contract for this work. We want documents related to the service provider of chemical toilets in Khayelitsha known as ‘Mshengu Toilets’. The last response we received only included three pages of the contract but the contract consists of 72 pages,” Notywala explained.

Chief of Staff in the mayor’s office, Paul Boughey, said the city had received a letter from the SJC regarding Mshengu services and they had “provided two detailed responses”. Concerning the fallen toilets he said if the city was aware of such an incident it was rectified as soon as possible. “Regrettably in many cases such incidents are not reported through the city’s numerous reporting systems, including free call lines. We actively encourage residents to make use of these communication channels to help ensure that we provided the best possible level of service. The City does have field staff that pro-actively monitors such issues, and if an incident is identified by them, they will ensure that appropriate remedial action is taken, including that it is re-erected and cleaned,” he said.

BM Section resident Nomthunzi Foshara said the toilets were in a very bad state. She said they were dirty and some didn’t even have doors. She said that some residents have taken the toilet doors for their shacks. She also said some residents claim the toilets for themselves and lock them. “That whole area is filthy and unhygienic and our children play there at times. My three-year-old recently had pimples and boils on his face and at the clinic they said it was an infection. But through all of this, I don’t have a any other choice but to use those toilets,” said Foshara.

Mshengu services field manager, Benjamin Milandou made it clear to GroundUp that Mshengu Toilet Hire was “well organised”.

“BM Section is giving us a headache. We clean the area thrice a week and the toilets are picked up each and everyday. If you go there now, you will find that nine toilets are lying on their sides. As the field manager I have reported this to the city. They know very well what is going on but are doing nothing about it to help us fix this problem. I went myself to the City of Cape Town and returned with a man from there whom I showed how bad the situation was in BM Section, but to this day, nothing has been done.

“I even suggested that the toilets be removed but the community stated that they still wanted the toilets. About two weeks back I met with one of the BM Section community leaders whom I asked to choose people who would monitor the toilets. He told me we should have a meeting about this on Wednesday. When Wednesday came, he was nowhere to be found, I have been trying to call him many times and I still haven’t gotten hold of him. I don’t know the community so I cannot go there and choose people myself. I have the same problem with the ward councillor. He is not getting back to me after he told me that he would conduct an investigation into this toilet situation. It is very hard and nothing seems to be coming right, because on our side we are trying the best we can to deliver a good service to the community. We are supposed to be providing 60 toilets to that section, but now we had to reduce this and provide 30 because the other 30 were destroyed. The City knows full and well about this situation, but is doing nothing,” explained Milandou.

Boughey said the community was encouraged to report such an incident to either the local ward councillor, or environmental health practitioners or janitorial service employees in the area.

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TOPICS:  Local government Sanitation

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