“We can never vote while breathing human waste every day”


Sewer overflowing since last year say East London residents

Photo of a drain
A blocked drain overflows with sewage in front of Babalwa Mbiko’s shack in Babaton, Duncan Village. She says she has reported the drain without success. Photo: Chris Gilili

Residents of Babaton informal settlement in Duncan Village, East London, say they are tired of breathing sewage from two blocked drains.

“We have been reporting this issue since last year, and the municipality promises to come and fix it. Then nothing happens … The leaking is directly in front of my shack,” said Bulelwa Mbiko. “They just came to observe the damage in March … Nothing has been done,” said Mbiko.

“Children play here when school is out … I really wish the councillor would come and live in this dump for a day and feel our daily struggles.”

Babaton was established 27 years ago and is home to over 300 people. Residents share eight communal toilets and two taps.

“This dirty water flows right in front of my shack,” says Babaton committee member Nkonki Tulwana. “We have called the councillor on several occasions to come and see this mess for herself, but she has never done that. The main challenge we have in Babaton is that we have people who are staunch fans of the councillor; as a result they overlook her shortcomings.”

“I will never vote while I breathe faeces every day,” said Tulwana.

Ward 2 councillor Ntombizandile Mhlola told GroundUp: “I will report the matter to the municipality, because according to my knowledge the process of fixing broken sewer systems is ongoing and Babaton is on the plans.

“It is not that I am ignoring the residents, because I do call meetings sometimes to brief residents.”

Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality engineering and sanitation programmes manager Mkhuseli Nongogo said, “The main cause of blockages in sewer systems is that the toilets used by residents have smaller pipes. People have a responsibility to also make sure that they take proper care of these toilets. The municipality has in its financial budget for this year included the maintenance of toilets and fixing of sewer systems in Duncan Village.”

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TOPICS:  Sanitation

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