Khayelitsha residents barricade homes against overflowing toilets

2016-12-15 09:57

Cape Town – Wearing black ankle boots, shorts and a T-shirt, Zandisile Phatho sweated as he went back and forth carrying a bucket, trying to scoop out the smelly toilet water that entered his shack in RR Section in Khayelitsha.

The stinking, green communal toilets in the informal settlement had flooded homes nearby as a result of constant blockages. It was so bad that Phatho has moved in with his girlfriend to get away. Other residents built ridges of sand to keep the sewage at bay, GroundUp reported.

Residents said they reported the problem to the City of Cape Town last week.

Mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said blocked sewerage pipes were the cause.

"The city has been working on clearing the blockage for approximately one week now, with no success," he said.

Toilets in RR Section are blocked and the dirty wa
Toilets in RR Section are blocked and the dirty water is flowing into nearby shacks. (Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp)

On Tuesday, GroundUp saw that out of 10 communal toilets that were installed in 2013, only one was unlocked and it was overflowing. Dirty water pooled around the back of the toilets and flowed into shacks.

RR Section resident and toilet cleaner Andile Radebe said he reported the matter to his supervisor on Monday.

Blocked system

"Look at the mess these toilets are causing right now, and look at these kids playing here. The reason these toilets are like this is because of the amount of people that use them on a daily basis. The last time we counted, there were 360 toilets here in RR, but there are even more people."

In addition, people were dumping food or dirt into drains connected to the toilets, which blocked the system.

"It crushed my heart when I was driving around here and saw a child playing in that water, which is why I am taking it upon myself to highlight this issue," community activist Raymond Xazana said.

"This is not healthy. For these few days I have been here, the situation has not changed. How do people cook and eat with this bad smell?"

Xazana asked for help and posted photographs of the toilets on Facebook on Monday. He received responses from two different people from the city who wanted more information so they could dispatch a team to the informal settlement.

By Wednesday morning, nothing had changed.

Sonnenberg said the city had been in communication with RR Section residents and appealed to them to be patient as the city could not attend to the toilets until the blockages had been cleared. They were caused by rags and other litter in the system, which were thrown into toilets or open manholes.

Read more on:    cape town  |  service delivery

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