City 'did not consult community' on toilets

2010-10-27 14:34

Cape Town - A report by the City of Cape Town on the toilets-without-walls saga in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, shows that the community was not adequately consulted, the Social Justice Coalition said on Wednesday.

"The investigation's findings are an indictment of the city's failure to adequately consult with community members or adhere to the norms and standards outlined in the Water Services Act and national housing code," said SJC spokesperson Gavin Silber in a statement.

The Democratic Alliance-led City of Cape Town on Wednesday released a report on its findings, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing and that it remained a "better solution than the national norm".

The party said the report showed that the decision to install the toilets was "by agreement with local residents" and that the toilets were "in addition to the ratio of one toilet to every five households installed in Makhaza, in line with the national housing norm".

The city said it could not discuss the full contents of the report because the matter was currently before the Western Cape High Court.

'Loos with views'

Members of the ANC Youth League had asked the court to order that concrete toilets be erected where there were once open-air toilets at Makhaza.

The ANCYL application is set to be argued on November 24.

The SJC said the report focused on a meeting which took place on November 27 with the community but failed to provide the identities of the community members or the leaders representing them.

"This brings into serious doubt their ability to claim that adequate consultation was facilitated," Silber said.

The SJC found the city's repeated use of the phrase "loos with views" offensive.

"Furthermore, we found that residents often felt too scared and intimidated to decline the toilet under onerous conditions, for fear of getting no toilet whatsoever."

The SJC said the city's investigation illustrated how "meaningful engagement" and consultation with the community did not happen.

The toilets were erected by the city on the understanding that local residents would enclose them. As a furore - driven by the youth league - developed over the issue, the city enclosed them with corrugated iron.

Members of the league broke down the enclosures, and city workers then removed the toilets altogether.

The city and province have said they will rebuild the toilets and enclosures if the league gives an assurance the enclosures will not be broken down again.

The SJC said the ANCYL members who demolished the enclosures had to account for their actions, but added that it was wrong for the city to "collectively punish" residents for the actions of a few.