24 September 2018
People visiting Home Affairs in Cofimvaba near Queenstown, Eastern Cape, say security guards force them to pay R4 if they need to use the toilet. If they don’t pay, they are told to “hold it in” or use an open field nearby to relieve themselves.
This “business” has been ongoing for years, say locals, and the price has kept rising.
When GroundUp visited the offices, the toilets were locked. Two elderly women needed the toilet urgently. “First pay, then you can use the toilet,” a security guard told one of them.
Nosebenzile Gwele, 62, from Mcungco village, said, “We are forced to use the open field if we do not have money to pay for the toilet. What is sad is that this is a government place and we are voters but we can’t use toilets for free. We are forced to pay.”
Gwele said she had arrived at the Home Affairs office at 8am. She was waiting for her grandchild to get a new ID card. She said she had already paid R8 to use the toilet so far that day.
A woman who identified herself as Nosandise from Chamama village said she was no longer ashamed of using the open field in front of Home Affairs. “People see our bums; we just made peace with that,” she said.
Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Makgola said the provincial management was looking into the matter. When GroundUp checked two weeks later, guards were still demanding payment to use the toilet.