After being forced due to a lack of toilets to defecate in plastic bags for the past seven years, about 800 residents of the Ekuphumleni informal settlement in Du Noon are set to receive communal flush toilets.
However, the toilets come at a cost, to be borne by nine families whose shacks will be demolished to make way for the sanitation infrastructure.
Ekuphumleni residents say they have been living without toilets for long enough and the nine families had knowingly erected shacks on space reserved for the toilets.
Now the nine family’s shacks have been marked for demolition and no alternative land has been identified where they can re-erect their homes.
One of the people facing an uncertain future is Fezeka Matiwane, a 43-year-old mother of four children aged two, four 11 and 21.
Matiwane shares her one bedroom shack she erected three months ago with her husband and her four children.
She said previously where she stayed within the informal settlement her shack was next to stream in which residents threw their sewerage. Living there eventually became unbearable so they moved into the only remaining open space in the settlement.
Facing eviction, Matiwane says she does not know where to go.
Having lived in her shack for three years, Molima Bokwana, 27, says she is disturbed that her home is also earmarked for demolition.
Community leader Erick Mteli, 37, said meetings with all 800 residents had been held and residents had mandated that the nine shacks occupying the space earmarked for toilets would have to be demolished.
“There are no toilets. We are using plastic bags and throwing the rubbish in storm water canals the following morning. Some times we defecate in the bushes near the N7. We have been doing this for seven years now, we want toilets,” said Mteli.
He said he had no idea where the nine families will move to.
“These people built their shacks knowing that the land was reserved for toilets,” he said.
South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) Du Noon branch executive member Sinothemba Matomela said the City intended to install 60 flush toilets on the land currently occupied by the nine families.
ANC ward councillor Lubabalo Makeleni said the residents were aware that no one was allowed to erect or extend their shacks without approval from community leaders.
He said nine shacks has been earmarked for demolition and would be demolished as soon as the City’s Anti Land Invasion Unit was ready. — Peter Luhanga