DA takes campaign against bucket toilets to human rights commission

2014-09-08 16:15

The Democratic Alliance has lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission regarding the increased use of the bucket toilet system in three provinces.

“The basis of our complaint is the big increase in the number of bucket toilets in the Eastern Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal,” Democratic Alliance cooperative governance and traditional affairs spokesperson Kevin Mileham said today.

The worst offender was the Eastern Cape, where the number of households using the system increased from 38 606 to 52 732 in one year between June 2012 and 2013.

This was according to a Statistics South Africa report released on August 28.

The North West and KwaZulu-Natal also reported increases, according to Stats SA’s nonfinancial census of municipalities.

In North West, 1 481 households were using the bucket toilet system in 2012. This increased to 1 750 in 2013.

In KwaZulu-Natal, no households were using the bucket system, but in 2013, 1 585 were using it, according to Stats SA.

Mileham, with DA water spokesperson Nosimo Balindlela and local DA councillors, laid the complaint with the human rights commission at Walmer township in Port Elizabeth.

“The reason why we did it in Walmer is because the biggest increase in bucket toilets was in Port Elizabeth, which again increased by 8 000,” Mileham said.

“There are better ways of dealing with human sanitation than the bucket system.”

The problem continued due to a lack of political will, with nothing happening at local government level.

Mileham said the matter was a national priority, and needed to be addressed by local, provincial and national government.

In Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, millions of rands had been budgeted to address the problem over the last three years, with nothing done.

“It’s the poorest people who are suffering,” he said.

Using the bucket toilet system was undignified, and posed health and hygiene problems.

“Days and weeks go by when these toilets aren’t serviced,” Mileham said.

The DA hoped the human rights commission would be able to produce a report on the matter in the new year.

Mileham said both he and Balindlela would also drive the process through their respective Parliament portfolio committees, and in Parliament itself.

“This issue needs to be highlighted because we feel we are going backwards,” he said.

The Nelson Mandela Bay metro’s 13th edition of its 2011-2016 integrated development plan, for the 2014-2015 financial year, stated 20 900 households in the metro still used the bucket system.

Some bucket toilets were also operated privately, the extent of which was still being established.

According to Stats SA, the number of households using the system decreased between 2012 and 2013 in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Northern Cape, and Free State.

In Gauteng, the number dropped from 160 to 58; in the Western Cape it decreased from 3804 to 2598; the Northern Cape decreased from 9286 to 8147, and the Free State went down from 35 214 to 31 032.

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