By Buhle Andisiwe Made
Risoso Libi and her family have been living through a nightmare for the past three years. She resides in Phumlani in Extension Two, which is part of Ward Three. With a drain located inside of her yard, whenever the sewage pipes in the area become blocked, sewage erupts out of the manhole cover and overflows through the backyard.
This drainage problem comes not only with a foul stench, but with bacteria that festers in her personal space and affects her children and well-being.
Libi and her family moved into their home in 2020 and since then have faced the uncomfortable circumstance of sewage that runs through her backyard. The Libi’s constantly have their windows closed due to the strong sewage smell that lingers around her yard and into her home. The family cannot bear to open their windows due to the number of flies that hover in and around their home. In addition, Libi has had to pay for doctor’s consultations for her two young daughters in order to treat rashes on their faces caused by the sewage pollution.
Libi has reported the sewage eruptions many times to the municipality and says she has to visit the municipal offices countless times before municipal workers arrive to clear the drains. Recently, municipal workers attended to the overflowing sewage a month after Libi’s complaint. Libi says when the workers unblock the drain, they leave piles of foul residue behind in her yard, and within a few months, the drain erupts again.
Libi told Grocott’s Mail that she has reached out to the Ward Three councillor, Andile Hoyi the ANC, who said he would escalate the matter in the municipality. Hoyi told Grocott’s Mail that he assessed the problem, and reported it to technical infrastructure and the manager of water and is still waiting for feedback.
In addition to her sewage woes, Libi has residents dumping their garbage right outside her backyard. With each round of dumping, the piles of trash attract rats and other pests, which later hound her neighbour and her.
Libi says she and her neighbour, Bulelwa Fulani have asked community members to stop dumping, but they have refused. Fulani adds that being working mothers, they cannot keep tabs on those who continue to dispose of their garbage on the open land.
Because of the dump, the children are not able to play on the open land next to their homes. Libi and Fulani afraid to have their young girls around the waste, due to possible infections and the likelihood that criminals could hide in the dump, following previous robberies where a community member was harmed. Libi and Fulani said the dump site can get so tall that it becomes difficult to see over to the other side.
Hoyi said he had asked the Community Workers Programme (CWP) – an innovative offering from the government to provide a job safety net for unemployed people of working age, site manager to remove the illegal dump site. Municipal spokesperson, Anele Mjekula did not reply to questions from Grocott’s Mail.