Indigents in SA increased, bucket toilet use decreased - Stats SA

Risenga Maluleke (Netwerk24)
Risenga Maluleke (Netwerk24)

The number of recorded indigents in South Africa increased from the year 2017 to 2018 and the use of bucket toilets in municipalities decreased by 50.3% from 2014 to 2018.

These were the figures Statistician General of South Africa Risenga Maluleke announced on Thursday while releasing the results of the Non-Financial Census of Municipalities for 2018.

Maluleke said consumer units provided with bucket toilets decreased from 60 557 in 2017 to 42 612 in 2018. The results show that 8 213 of the 42 612 were in the Setsoto municipality in the Free State.

Among the municipalities that contributed to the national total the most were Nelson Mandela Bay and Kouga in the Eastern Cape, Sol Plaatjie and Dawid Kruiper in the Northern Cape and Mangaung and Metsimaholo in the Free State. 

Statistics SA also released figures to show that consumer units receiving services from municipalities increased between 2017 and 2018. The highest percentage increase in the provision of services is the provision of water, with 3.7%. This was followed by 3.6% for sewerage and sanitation, 3.1% for electricity and 2.4% for solid waste management. 

The highest provincial increases for the provision of water services were recorded in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, while the lowest increase was in the Western Cape. 

Limpopo and the Eastern Cape also recorded the highest increases for the provision of electricity while the Free State  and Gauteng had the lowest increases. 

"The highest provincial increases for sewerage and sanitation were recorded in the Eastern Cape (6.2%), followed by Mpumalanga with 5.4%, while the lowest increases were recorded in Western Cape (1.2%) and KwaZulu-Natal (2.0%)," Maluleke said.

Free basic services rendered to consumers in various municipalities decreased in all four services between 2017 and the 2018 financial year. The results in these services showed that 661 275 less consumer units received free basic water in 2018 compared to 2017. For sewerage and sanitation, 600 815 less consumer units received services compared to 2017. 

Indigent household

Maluleke said indigent households identified by municipalities in 2018 amounted to about 3.6 million in the country.

About 2.8 million indigent households benefited from the support of water, while 2 million from free basic electricity provided by municipalities. The 2018 estimates also found that indigents increased from 3 511 741 to 3 631 443.


The report also revealed that the number of people municipalities employed increased from 281 787 in 2017 to 282 021 in 2018. This includes councillors and mayors but excludes vacant posts.

There were 12 268 recorded people in management positions in municipalities - 7 709 occupied by males and 4559 by females. These exclude mayoral and councillor positions, and vacancies. 

"The percentage of males and females in positions of authority in 2018, in terms of mayors, we had 61% males versus 39% for females. In terms of councillors we had 59% versus 41% in favour of males.

"In terms of Section 56 managers we had 70% males and 30% females and these are your managers that relate to servicing your municipal manager, and [the] CFO in your municipal office," Maluleke said.

Maluleke said the non-financial census of municipalities found that more services were being extended to consumer units but that there was a decline in the provision of free basic services in general.

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