Toilets an issue in court

 Portable toilets being cleaned at Borcherd’s Quarry. A study commissioned by the City has found that these toilets are substantially more expensive over a ten-year period than individual full flush toilets.  PHOTO: masixole feni
Portable toilets being cleaned at Borcherd’s Quarry. A study commissioned by the City has found that these toilets are substantially more expensive over a ten-year period than individual full flush toilets. PHOTO: masixole feni

The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) has taken the City of Cape Town to the High Court and the Equality Court for failing to respect “the right of access to sanitation of poor, black and marginalised residents of informal settlements”.

The SJC wants the City to present to court, within three months, the measures it will take to implement permanent sanitation facilities in informal settlements that are not temporary settlement areas. Last week, the SJC filed affidavits from five women living in informal settlements in Khayelitsha.

There is an additional affidavit filed by Conrad Barberton, director of Cornerstone Economic Research, a company hired in January to develop a Sanitation Costing Model for the City of Cape Town.

The women’s affidavits describe the humiliation that goes with lack of proper sanitation, the illnesses their families regularly suffer, and their fears for the safety of their children, especially at night.

The SJC alleges that the City uses temporary, emergency sanitation solutions to address issues in informal settlements that were established decades ago.

“It’s sad that in 22 years of democracy, every administration, regardless of political party, has failed the people of Khayelitsha,” said Zackie Achmat of Ndifuna Ukwazi’s law centre at an SJC press conference on Tuesday morning.

Thobeka Eunice Bobotyana, 49, supports an 11-person household on R1 200 a month. There are seven communal toilets, five-minutes’ walk from her home, but shared by over 500 families. Sometimes she must relieve herself in the bush beside the N2, a 15-minute walk from her home. In 2014, her six-year-old nephew was killed crossing Baden-Powell Road to relieve himself.

“There is a street light on the street outside my home, but it has never worked since it was installed in 2013. I try not to go outside in the evening because it is very dark outside at night, and there are gangsters that walk around at night,” she states in her affidavit. “I am afraid to go to the communal toilets or the bush alone at night; so I wake one of my older children to walk with me. Before I can go to the toilet, I must first find a neighbour who is home and can give me a key to the toilet. This can take a long time, because not a lot of people go to the toilet at night.

“If I cannot find a key, I ask someone to accompany me to the bush. If there is no one to accompany me, then I have to wait until the morning before I can go to the toilet.”

Lindela Bebi has been using the same Portable Flush Toilet (PFT) since 2002. The lid, seat, and brackets to attach it to the ground are broken. – GroundUp

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