City told to do job

2017-02-07 06:02

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Provincial government has taken the City of Cape Town to task over poor service delivery in Masiphumelele.

The City has broken environmental law in Masiphumelele, it has been found (“City needs to clean up”,, 30 January).

During an investigation into pollution in the township, a site inspection by the department on Thursday 19 January found the City had failed to provide adequate ablution, washing and storm water management and solid waste management practices in Masiphumelele, the directive states.

The inspection was done after community workers complained to the provincial health department of contaminated water in the township’s canals. Shacks are situated directly alongside the canals and residents cross them using improvised bridges made of planks. When the water levels are low, residents walk through the sludge and children play in the mud, it was complained.

In a directive issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs, signed on Friday 20 January, the City was found to have caused “significant pollution and/or degradation to the environment, which constitutes a significant danger to the health and wellbeing” of Masiphumelele residents.

The directive ordered the City to undertake a thorough and effective cleanup, remove refuse and carry out maintenance of toilets, washing facilities, canals and other infrastructure. The directive also ordered a progress report.

Dr Jo Barnes, a community health specialist at Stellenbosch University , says the City has failed in a number of service areas.

According to Barnes, the directive covers all the basic services the City is legally contracted to carry out, and orders them to improve performance on all of them.

Although working in Masiphumelele – and most other informal settlements – can be very difficult, explains Barnes, as there are factions in the community jostling for power, there are far too few toilets and water stands for the residents, with as many as 30 or 40 people using one toilet.

Subcouncil chairperson Felicity Purchase says “major cleaning” has been taking place. There are also plans for a pilot project to install new ablution blocks in March. “The problem is overcrowding and vandalism. When we were requested to put fencing to protect the wetland, the activists objected. We will continue to fix toilets regularly as brought to our attention but the community members also need to do their part and stop the theft of our taps and pipes. They need to take ownership and responsibility,” she says.

Both the community and the municipality contribute to the “vicious spiral”, says Barnes. “Municipalities will attribute all the breakages to vandalism and the community will attribute all the breakages to poor maintenance. It’s neither black nor white. There is both vandalism and breakages from overuse,” she says.

Poor service delivery can have a serious health impact, Barnes cautions, with residents susceptible to diarrhoea and eye, ear and skin infections. This places a burden on the healthcare system, she adds.

“One must not forget these are poor people who often have a poor diet and are malnourished. This makes them more vulnerable to illness,” she says.
Xanthea Limberg, Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy, says only that “the City will be responding directly to the Western Cape government regarding the directive”.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Partner Content
How data is changing investments

Technological disruption is rife in many spheres of business and given the quantity of data available, it’s no surprise that the way in which asset managers work is also changing fast.

Behind the sparkle

Alluring, beautiful and timeless - diamonds are some of the most sought after gems in the world and are a true testament of everlasting brilliance. Let us take you behind the sparkle to show you the history behind this coveted jewel.


Play with your pet when you're not at home

Many pets are alone at home during the week while their owners are at work. So what do these animals get up to while they’re home alone?



How to get rid of fleas
12 Cool cat facts
Chocolate can be fatal for dogs
Spider-man star's adorable relationship with his dog
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.