Two people arrested during toilet protest in Durban

Informal settlement families say they only have five mobile toilets for over 400 shacks

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The busy M19 Highway in Durban was blocked off for a few hours on Monday by protesters from Scrapyard informal settlement demanding toilets and electricity. Photos: Tsoanelo Sefoloko

At least two people were arrested during a protest on Monday by residents of the Scrapyard informal settlement who blocked the busy M19 Highway with burning tyres and rubble.

The community is demanding that the eThekwini Municipality give them proper toilets and install electricity in their homes, among other services. The settlement is one of the oldest in Durban. When GroundUp visited the settlement, residents pointed out one working standpipe and five mobile toilets which they say are shared by over 400 shacks. There are also many illegal connections throughout the settlement.

The municipality, in August, said that its maintenance budget had been reallocated to prioritise storm damage projects after the April or May floods in 2022.

Police spokesperson Robert Netshiunda confirmed that two people had been arrested and would appear in court.

Resident Ndumiso Mkhize accused the police of shooting at him with rubber bullets during the protest. “I tried to follow the instructions, but police shot me. All we want is service delivery and for eThekwini officials to address us.

“We have been waiting for them to build us toilets. Can you imagine more than 2,500 people having to share five mobile toilets?” said Mkhize.

Community leader Bheki Miya said residents were upset because they say their ward councillor doesn’t care about their wellbeing. “When we talk to him over the phone, he says everything is fine in this area…Our children do not even have a place to play here because our area is densely populated,” he said.

Miya said residents were tired of having to use the bushes when the mobile toilets are full or broken.

Njabulo Zungu and Sikhumbuzo Ndaba from Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda’s office came out to speak to protesters on Monday.

Zungu said, “We understand that the residents feel ignored by the eThekwini municipality, but we urge them to be calm. We are still going to investigate the issue of who owns the land [where the settlement is built].”

Ward 25 Councillor Themba Mkhize promised to call a community meeting soon where residents would be given an opportunity to voice their concerns. He denied that he had not paid attention to the issues raised by residents.

Informal settlement resident Nkosinathi Khondlo near one of the toilets shared by hundreds of families.

TOPICS:  Electricity Sanitation

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