Govt battles to kick the bucket
Cape Town - Almost a decade ago, government vowed to eradicate the so-called bucket system - the default sewage option for hundreds of thousands of poor South Africans - but the problem has not gone away.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question tabled on Friday, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale revealed that there were still 86 443 households around the country using buckets instead of toilets.
The highest number of such households were in the Free State (38 366), followed by the Eastern Cape (28 887) and the Northern Cape (14 797).
The problem also persisted in the North West (3 503 households), the Western Cape (832) and Gauteng (58), according to a table attached to his reply.
Fifty-one municipalities were affected.
If each household included four residents, the total number of people using what former water minister Ronnie Kasrils once described as a "filthy remnant of apartheid abuse" is well over 300 000.
The actual total could be far higher; government sanitation figures refer only to those living in recognised "formal settlements".
Responsibility for the provision of sanitation services was transferred from water affairs to the department of human settlements last year.
In the early 2000s, government set the end of 2007 as the date on which the bucket system would be totally eradicated. This slipped to the end of 2008. Three years later, it persists.
In his reply, Sexwale said that in most of the affected provinces financing had been secured, or was in the process of being secured, to "upgrade" the bucket system. He did not say when this would happen.
He also said there were no "bucket systems" in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.