Shack dwellers live in filth in Kraaifontein

Residents depend on neighbours in RDP houses for basic services

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Photo of piles of rubbish
Nonceba Gqda looks out at the uncollected garbage in Marikana, Wallacedene, where she lives. Photo: Vincent Lali

Residents in Marikana informal settlement near Kraaifontein say they are having to contend with stinking, uncollected garbage and human waste. [Editor’s note: This is a different settlement to Marikana in Philippi.]

Faeces, old clothes, discarded furniture, rotting food, plastic bags, and scraps of paper coated with excrement are scattered around the informal settlement. People relieve themselves in an empty dam nearby. Some get water and electricity from newly-built RDP houses in Phase 7, Wallacedene.

When GroundUp visited, filthy water mixed with human waste gurgled out of a storm water drain and streamed down Gigaba Street.

Resident Seipati Ramashaoi said: “The storm water drain has been troublesome since last year, but we have never seen municipal plumbers come and fix it … We have no choice but to eat while we breathe the smelly air.”

Mayoral Committee Member for Area North Councillor Suzette Little said that the area was inspected following reports of a damaged drain, and no defects were found. She said: “Following an investigation on Monday 30 April 2018, it was determined that this informal settlement was formed after an illegal land occupation approximately three weeks ago. The way forward in terms of provision of basic services is still under discussion.”

But Nandipha Siqendu said she left Mfuleni three years ago and moved into her shack in the settlement. She said she shares a wheelie bin with her neighbour and they deposit their rubbish with a municipal truck which comes every Tuesday to service the Phase 7 RDP houses.

Siqendu gets her water from an RDP house. “The house is still new and the City has not yet installed a meter box in the yard. I’m worried that the house owner will close the pipe off and refuse to allow us to get water from his yard once he gets a meter box,” she said.

“The water is not ours. We want to have our own water taps so that we don’t have to beg our neighbours for water,” she said.

She uses the toilet in her father’s house, a 15-minute walk from her shack. She also cooks at her father’s house as she has no electricity. She is saving money to buy a paraffin stove.

“Other shack-dwellers get electricity from the houses, but I don’t even have money to buy cables to connect to the houses, never mind money to buy electricity on a monthly basis,” she said.

Resident Nonceba Gqada said, “We see the cleaners work in nearby areas, but they never come to Marikana.” She moved to the settlement in September 2017.

She empties her dirty water in a field and deposits old food in a bucket for a subsistence farmer who keeps pigs.

Gqada lives with three school-going children. She draws electricity and water from an RDP house.

She said, “You pick your way around shit in that empty dam and feel disgusted … I cover myself with a blanket so that my body doesn’t show.”

“God is great,” she says, “because I have never had to rush to the dam at night as a result of a running stomach.”

TOPICS:  Housing Land Sanitation

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