Western Cape High Court Judge Nathan Erasmus took a tour of Khayelitsha’s Makhaza area last Thursday to inspect 51 toilets that are the subject of a court application by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) accusing the City of Cape Town of human rights violations.The in loco inspection was the latest in the Makhaza toilet saga which has been dragging on since the beginning of the year.
The city stands accused of violating residents right to dignity by neglecting to erect structures around toilets they installed in the informal settlement.
The city installed 1 316 toilets in Makhaza and other informal settlements in 2007, allegedly in agreement with residents that they would erect their own structures around the toilets to ensure their privacy.
The majority of residents did so but 51 toilets remained unenclosed in Makhaza and the regional ANC Youth League filed a complaint with the SAHRC in June.
The city’s later attempts to erect zinc structures around the toilets sparked protests in the area.
The SAHRC’s findings released in September stated the city violated residents’ rights to dignity and ordered the city to immediately erect brick and mortar structures around the toilets.
Paraplegic Mbuyisile Vellem, 56, is one of the residents who is unhappy with the city’s actions.
Vellem said he got his four teenage sons to erect zinc walls around his toilet but he has no money to put a roof on and doesn’t enjoy being rained on.
Vellem said he would be in the High Court on Monday when a decision on whether or not the city needed to comply with the SAHRC ruling will be made.
Officials from the SAHRC, the ANC Youth League and seven other individual applicants, together with the City of Cape Town as respondent, accompanied Erasmus on his visit.
Erasmus’s decision was expected to be made yesterday (subs: Thurs) afternoon but the parties involved wanted to hand in further written submission for Erasmus to consider.
On his inspection Erasmus noted that “some toilets had been enclosed with structures while some are not enclosed”.
Erasmus was introduced by community leaders to Johnson Gwilika, 47, who is disabled and required crutches to get around.
Gwilika said he had managed to enclose his toilet but it was leaking.
Erasmus noted that Gwilika had paved the path to his toilet, although it was not working properly.
Gwilika said the people he got to build the toilet enclosure made it too small.
“I wish that the judge can tell the city to build us proper toilets that would be easy to use,” he said. – Sandiso Phaliso, West Cape News