“We have no place to defecate” says Khayelitsha resident

City has promised to fix blocked toilets in Green Point informal settlement, but blames land occupiers for problem

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Photo of blocked and overflowing toilets.
Community leader Nomthandazo Monakali points out some of the blocked and overflowing toilets in Green Point informal settlement. Photo: Vincent Lali

There is a pungent smell of sewage and human faeces as you enter Phase 3 of Green Point informal settlement in Khayelitsha. This is because most of the toilets in the settlement are blocked and overflowing.

“Some residents shit in these toilets even though they are already blocked. I don’t know if they defecate while standing,” says Nomthandazo Monakali, who is a community leader in the settlement.

Monakali points out some of the toilets in the area that have been vandalised. The doors were unlocked and open. Many of the toilets are filled with dirt and faeces.

Monakali says criminals removed the padlocks and bolts from the toilets and sold them to scrap dealers. She says December 2017 was the last time janitors employed by the City of Cape Town, cleaned the area.

The City has since promised to fix the toilets.

“There’s lots of unemployed youths who are eager to get hired as janitors here, but the City doesn’t employ them,” she says. “If the City can’t hire people to maintain and clean the toilets, it must give us Mshengus [chemical toilets].”

Monakali says that the poor condition of the toilets has resulted in more rats and flies in the informal settlement.

Resident Ongikhaya Mvumande says she is unable to do her washing near the toilets because of the bad smell. “I don’t want to breath smelly air. I merely come to fetch water here,” she says.

Mvumande says she often waited to relieve herself at a nearby mall or at work.

Resident Nosakhe Mndabela says, “We used the field where the residents have occupied. We have no place to defecate.”

Mndabela says she and other shack-dwellers use buckets with water and disinfectants to relieve themselves. “Every morning I meet other residents who also come to drop their faeces in the blocked toilets. I’m not shy about carrying a bucket with shit to the toilets because other residents do the same.”

Mayoral Committee Member for Area East, Councillor Anda Ntsodo, said that the toilets would be “attended to as soon as resources allow”.

He said that the City needed support from the community to keep the toilets clean. Ntsodo attributed the blockages to vandalism and the recent occupation by shack dwellers at a neighbouring informal settlement.

“These new land invaders have reportedly broken the padlocks on the toilet structures that were constructed for the original community. The population growth in the area is due to land invasions. It is placing more strain on existing infrastructure,” he said.

Ntsodo also said a shortage of inoculations for janitors has delayed their deployment to the area.

TOPICS:  Sanitation

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