News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday August 19th 2019

145 families and one toilet

Residents have to step across streams of sewage running through their informal settlement. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

Residents have to step across streams of sewage running through their informal settlement. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN


There is only one toilet for 145 families living in one informal settlement in Du Noon. In four other, smaller, informal settlements, there is no toilet at all.

The sanitation situation is so dire in this area north of Tableview, that not only do many informal settlement residents not have access to toilets, the sewerage system carrying waste from the formally established parts of Du Noon often overflows, seeing sewage running into their shacks.

The City’s own Du Noon Land Use Audit, Mapping, Constraints and Opportunities Investigation report notes that across the informal settlements in Du Noon, on average 33 families have to share one toilet.

The report compiled by the City’s Economic, Environment and Spatial Planning (EESP) directorate was included in the Blaauwberg Sub-council notice agenda meeting for the City’s Sub-council 1 first sitting this year (subs: on Thursday January, 23).

“The current densities, especially in the informal settlements, are making the provision of services and other upgrading proposals ‘extremely’ difficult,” states the report.

In the formal housing area comprising mostly of RDP houses, of many have been bought by township entrepreneurs who have extended them and rent them out, refuse was collected once a week.

However, the waste from backyard dwellers was often not collected, creating a unhealthy environment “for all,” the report stated.

“Issues like this, where (City’s) policy and reality don’t meet are numerous and contribute to a negative environment,” the report stated.

Siyahlala informal settlement, situated on land owned by Transnet Freight Rail, has about 145 families sharing one toilet.

Behind Siyahlala is Sophakama Primary School, adjacent to which it raw sewage bubbles out of a broken manhole cover, forming a stream of faeces flowing in between, and often inside, resident’s shacks. Khulukazi Nsauli, 33, a mother of four young children aged from one to 14, was on Wednesday bailing sewage out of her shack.

Nsauli, who has lived in the area for nine years, said it was disgusting that she was scooping sewage out of her home while she did not even have access to a toilet.

“I’m cleaning shit but yet I shit in the bush. We sleep in shacks full of stench emanating from this shit. We don’t enjoy our food. Our children play in this sewerage…It’s driving me crazy,” said Nsauli.

Without access to toilets, residents either relieve themselves in a plastic bag which they dump, or cross the railway line to the open field beyond and relieve themselves there.

With raw sewage from the overburdened sewerage system flowing down many streets, resident Zukiswa Kaphakati, 34, a mother of two children aged three and 14, believes children’s health is suffering.

“Our children fall sick often because they walk barefoot to school, stepping on the stream of raw sewage,” she said.\

Commenting on the report, World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesperson in Geneva, Gregory Härtl, said access to water and sanitation was a fundamental human right and was enshrined as a Millennium Development Goal (MDG).

“All people everywhere should have access to adequate water and sanitation facilities,” said Härtl.

However, the City’s Mayco member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said the EESP report was not properly consulted “within” the City, “and therefore contains incorrect information”.

Sonnenberg said the lack of sanitation was due to the informal settlements being situated on privately owned land which the City was prohibited by law from servicing.

“However, as a caring city we have provided services on isolated pockets of land owned by the City in the area. This includes 14 full flush toilets, 28 chemical toilets and 13 standpipes,” he said. — Peter Luhanga


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