Toilets blocked for nearly a year

City of Cape Town blames vandalism for the mess

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Photo of blocked toilet
Some of the toilets in Shukushukuma informal settlement are unusable. Photo: Vincent Lali

Some of the toilets in Shukushukuma informal settlement in Mfuleni in Cape Town have been broken and blocked for nearly a year, according to a janitor employed to clean them.

Some of the toilets are filled with old excrement. Some have no cisterns or toilet bowls. The City of Cape Town says the condition of the toilets is the result of vandalism.

Ntombozuko Situtumane, who works as a janitor in the informal settlement, said the toilets were last cleaned before July last year.

“We reported the dirty toilets to the City of Cape Town shortly after I started to work as a janitor here in July last year. We can’t fix blocked toilets. We only know how to clean them,” she said.

Said Situtumane: “After we report the toilets, city plumbers come and inspect them, but don’t get round to fixing the problem.”

Her contract expired in January, but the city rehired her in May, she said.

Situtumane said residents who did not have keys to clean toilets had to use buckets.

Resident Kholiseka Masikizi said children squatted between the blocks of toilets to relieve themselves.

“Because toilets bowls are piled high with faeces, you can’t sit on them,” she said.

“Sometimes the toilet pipes burst and dirty, smelly water streams past my shack.”

Jeanette Pane lives with her three children in a shack beside the blocked toilets. She said during the day she walked for about 15 minutes to borrow a key to one of the clean, usable toilets in the settlement from another resident. At night she used a bucket in her shack, with disinfectant to mask the smell.

On hot days flies poured into her shack from the dirty toilets, she said.

Jeanette Pane lives next to the blocked toilets. Photo: Vincent Lali

Community leader Walala Sam said a block of toilets had fallen over, reducing the number of toilets in his area.

“Residents who stay near the overturned toilets can’t use them,” he said.

‘Heavy rains eroding soil under the block of toilets make them collapse,” he said.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy Xanthea Limberg said, “The situation in this area is a result of vandalism. The lockable clamps on the toilet doors have been removed on a number of occasions, leaving the toilets prone to vandalism and theft. The cisterns are then stolen, and the toilet bowls are blocked with general litter and filled with human waste.

“The City has met with the community leader of Shukushukuma to discuss the situation and the community leader has committed to discussing the problem of vandalism with his community.”

Limberg said the City had been on site again on 13 June and had been told that the community would lock the toilets using chains and padlocks to prevent theft.

“Work to rehabilitate the toilets by removing blockages and replacing missing and damaged parts should start shortly,” she said.

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TOPICS:  Sanitation

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