Toilets never worked in France

Residents have flush toilets but have to use a bucket system

Photo of a woman

Clementine Dlamini points to a broken bucket she has to carry and empty in the forest. Photo: Ntombi Mbomvu

By Nompendulo Ngubane

6 June 2016

For over a decade residents in France Extension, Pietermaritzburg, carry buckets full of faeces to empty their waste in a nearby forest or along the main road.

Although flush toilets have been present since 2003, residents say they were never in a good condition, not even from the day they were installed. Some toilets have no walls separating them from the kitchen. They can’t be flushed due to water problems. Residents have to use buckets to flush the toilets and buckets to collect the waste. The yard smells are unbearable.

Zinhle Mbanjwa says, “While cooking you are able to smell what is coming from the toilet. That is our life for all of this time. For over ten years, we have been carrying buckets to throw away faeces. These toilets don’t flush like any other normal toilet. You do what you do and have to flush it using water from the bucket. Since we have no water, we use dirty water. If not, we use water that has been used for washing. Sometimes it’s water that has been used for washing dishes.”

“The water tanker comes once a week and sometimes not at all. Some residents have dug holes in their yards … Again it’s risky because there are children. Our children are exposed to great danger. Toilets have been our priority but it always falls on deaf ears of our ward councillor … If no one is volunteering to empty the buckets, the bucket gets full and all the waste overflows [into the yards],” said Mbanjwa.

Resident Clementine Dlamini said, “An outcry for [working] toilets has been our main problem as the community of France Extension. To be honest, nothing in this location is right. We are invisible from our leaders. These toilets were built wrong from day one … You wake up in the morning and the road is full of faeces and used tissues. What kind of a place is that, really? Our ward councillor knows and she has never done anything about it. That is one of the reasons we protested against her.”

Last month ward 18 residents in France protested against ward councillor Sindisiwe Gwala (ANC) for poor service delivery. Gwala has never been available to respond to GroundUp.