Cape storm leaves hundreds in Mfuleni with nowhere to use the toilet

  • Hundreds of Mfuleni residents' homes have been flooded after a strong storm in Cape Town.
  • The field they use to go to the toilet has also been flooded.
  • They now have to walk 20 minutes to use a toilet at the closest shopping mall.


Hundreds of households in Mfuleni, Cape Town, have no nearby place to relieve themselves, GroundUp reports.

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This comes after heavy rains turned a vacant piece of land used for defecation by the residents of Burundi informal settlement into a dam.

The heavy rains caused a nearby canal to overflow, flooding the vacant land and nearby shacks.

Community leader Masikholwe Madyongolo says the shack dwellers have been defecating on the land since 2004.

"You can't walk or squat to relieve yourself on the land because it is covered in water," Madyongolo said.

He says the shack dwellers use the land as their toilet because public toilets are blocked and located far from their shacks. They also have to stand in queues before they defecate at the community toilets.

"Residents avoid the toilets and use the land because they fear catching coronavirus when they are standing in a line."

Now the residents have to walk about 20 minutes to use the toilets at a shopping centre. Alternatively they have to go to nearby RDP houses to beg to use the toilets, Madyongolo says.

Shacks near the canal have also been flooded. Residents have left their flooded shacks and slept at relatives, acquaintances and friends, Madyongolo says.

"When they return in the mornings, they find their shacks burgled and their belongings stolen."

Community leader Nonceba Ntshanka said some people are still staying in their flooded shacks because they have nowhere else to go. "Flood victims now shit in buckets inside their shacks and empty them into the dam. I do the same," she says.

Ntshanka wants the City of Cape Town to move the residents to a drier area. She adds the water normally takes weeks to recede.

Nokubonga Bhovungane says she now makes her four children defecate in a bucket since the land is covered in water. "The floods have given me additional work as I have to empty the buckets and clean them after my kids use them," she said. "I must bear with the smell while they defecate inside the shack."

She struggles to get water to clean the buckets because paths to the communal taps have become swampy and muddy.

Baxolele Nqevu, whose home is flooded, says: "My wife wades through the water and makes food for me and my kids. We sit on bed while we eat because the shack is flooded."

Nqevu has placed his bed onto crates. "We can't go and stay elsewhere because we have no money to hire trucks and pay rent," he said. The water has drenched his furniture and belongings.

Floods, Mfuleni
This flooded area is a field that residents of Burundi informal settlement in Mfuleni use as a toilet.
Floods, Mfuleni
Erick Nyathi tries to get rid of the water in his shack.
Floods, Mfuleni
Avuziwe Mpiti stands with her child on her back at the entrance to her shack.
Floods, Mfuleni
The water is deep around Nyathi's home.

Lumka Zibi, who lives with three children and her husband, Erick Nyathi, says her flooded shack is cold. "I scoop the water out with a bucket, but I don't see where I can throw it because there is water everywhere."

The floods drenched her furniture, blankets and clothes. "I put my blankets on the line to dry, but the rain returns and forces me to remove them while they are still wet."

Avuziwe Mpiti says she lives with her one-month-old daughter in a wet shack. The baby has a cough. "I can't wash my baby here because she would be exposed to cold if I undressed her in this ice-cold shack."

Mpiti strengthened her floor with cement and bricks in January to prevent water from filtering through. "The water coming from outside has caused the cement to crack. Now my shack is full of water," she says.

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