Dept: Open toilets' land meant for houses
Cape Town - The unenclosed toilets’ land in Harrismith that have seen residents cry foul were meant for public houses that will still be built, the human settlements ministry said on Thursday.
"There are no 'open toilets'," ministerial spokesperson Mandulo Maphumulo said after Minister Tokyo Sexwale visited the Free State town a day earlier.
"They were built on service sites and people were told that they have to pay R10 000 or R12 000 for those. We went there yesterday and people were misinformed. They were told they had to buy them."
Rumour or reality
She said Sexwale wanted to establish whether somebody had started a rumour that residents of Tshiame in Harrismith had to buy service sites or whether corrupt local councillors had indeed tried to extort money from the community.
"It may be a rumour, it may be true. We have to investigate. He (Sexwale) went there with the police and said if somebody told you this, tell us who they are. The community also has a responsibility to report this."
Maphumulo said the Maluti-a-Phofung municipality had built 500 toilets on the site in Harrismith in question. Of these, 311 were part of service sites that would become RDP houses under an approved project.
On the rest of the sites, houses would be built for the so-called gap market – low-income earners who cannot access bank financing for a home.
The situation in Harrismith was reported on Wednesday as another so-called open toilet saga and drew an outraged response from Sexwale
"This represents the worst form of planning which degrades the dignity of the poorest of the poor," he said.
Long legal battle
His spokesperson said there had been reports of open toilets in Skierlik as well, and he would look into those during his visit to the town.
In early 2011, the Democratic Alliance become embroiled in a political storm for failing to enclose more than 1 300 toilets in Makhaza on the Cape Flats.
After a long legal battle, the city council on Monday began building structures around these.
The African National Congress was hit by its own open toilet scandal in Rammulotsi in the Free State on the eve of the municipal elections. The toilets were built seven years ago but never enclosed.
The ministry said "everything is in place" to start enclosing them.