by LOYISO DYONGMAN, GroundUp
- Residents of Riebeek East under the Makana Municipality say the government is neglecting them.
- Most of the pit latrines, built during apartheid, are not cleaned regularly.
- Most families are forced to relieve themselves in the bush near their homes because their toilets are overflowing and filled with maggots.
The community of Riebeek East say the Makana Municipality is neglecting them by allowing them to live with filthy toilets. They say the municipal honey sucker truck, which empties the pit latrines, does not attend to their homes regularly.
When we visited the small town, about 42 kilometres from Makhanda, most of the toilets on people’s properties were full of faeces and stinking. Residents say the municipality has not told them why the truck does not come for weeks at a time.
Eric Mvandaba said, “These toilets were built during apartheid time. As I’m speaking to you now, last night [20 February] I couldn’t go to the toilet. These are not flushing toilets. We don’t know flush toilets here, we only see them when we go to Makhanda.
“Our councillors promise to follow up but nothing happens. This small town is very poor. People are unemployed, poor roads and houses, nothing is good here.”
Nomakhaya Gcado said many residents have resorted to relieving themselves in the bush near their homes. “We can’t even go to the municipal offices to ask questions. We are being left out,” said Gcado.
Siyanda Jokwana lives with his wife and their three children. “Sometimes the kids want to go to the toilet at night and there is no other way but to give them a bucket. The toilets are disgusting and have maggots. We feel like we have been forgotten.”
Ayanda Mbekela said the smell from the toilets is unbearable. He said it is worst in summer. “I have no choice but to use a bucket when I want to relieve myself at night.”
Pensioner Nomakorinte Belewa said she is scared to relieve herself in the bush. “Going to bushes is risky for us elders, but the situation is forcing us to do that. The municipality should get more trucks that will only focus on the outlying areas,” said Belewa.
Councillor (DA) for the area Carry Clark said outlying communities in the Makana Municipality share a honeysucker which often breaks down. “This leads to toilets overflowing and that adds to the already unhygienic state of Makana. Another honeysucker should have been prioritised a long time ago. The option of composting toilets should have also been investigated as a viable option, especially with the water situation in the municipality,” said Clark.
Municipal spokesperson Anele Mjekula promised to respond to our questions on 15 February but had not done so by the time of publication.
(This article was first published on GroundUp).