Buck­ets must fall

CityPress - - News - LUBA­BALO NGCUKANA luba­balo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

Mpumelelo Gantsho and his fam­ily have been us­ing the bucket toi­let sys­tem since 2000, which is when they moved to Aloes Vil­lage in Mis­sion­vale, Port El­iz­a­beth. On Thurs­day, City Press vis­ited Gantsho (41) and his fam­ily. They have to con­tend with the un­pleas­ant smell com­ing from the bucket toi­lets, es­pe­cially when the con­tain­ers go un­col­lected for weeks, or even a month.

Ac­cord­ing to Stats SA’s an­nual non­fi­nan­cial cen­sus of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in 2015, the num­ber of peo­ple us­ing the bucket toi­let sys­tem is in­creas­ing. The cen­sus found that be­tween 2012 and 2013, the num­ber of peo­ple who re­ceive ba­sic mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices has risen – sew­er­age and san­i­ta­tion has gone up by 6.2%, solid waste man­age­ment has in­creased by 5.1%, elec­tric­ity by 2.3% and wa­ter pro­vi­sion by 3.3%. But the use of the bucket toi­let sys­tem went up in the Eastern Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal, while there was a de­crease re­ported in Gaut­eng, the Western Cape, the North­ern Cape and the Free State.

A truck from the Nel­son Man­dela Bay Metro col­lects the buck­ets in Gantsho’s area ev­ery Wed­nes­day or Thurs­day.

“But when it rains, or there is a strike, the buck­ets are not col­lected for two weeks, or even a month. The sit­u­a­tion be­comes so des­per­ate that we pay peo­ple R20 to take the bucket and dis­pose of the waste some­where in the mid­dle of the night to pro­tect our young chil­dren from dis­eases,” he said.

In 2014, Gantsho and his neigh­bours moved into de­cent houses.

“When the mu­nic­i­pal­ity built us these two-bed­room houses, we thought this was the end of us­ing the dis­gust­ing bucket toi­let sys­tem. But when we moved into the house, we were dis­ap­pointed to find the bucket toi­lets,” he said.

De­spite the fact that the new houses, which have two bed­rooms, a kitchen and lounge, a bath­room with a bath, a toi­let and a basin, there is no wa­ter.

When City Press vis­ited the Gantshos, their bucket was empty be­cause the mu­nic­i­pal truck had just made a col­lec­tion run.

“The bucket toi­let is the most de­hu­man­is­ing sys­tem I know. Even so­cially, you can­not be re­spected by peo­ple who live in bet­ter-off places. They will in­sult you by say­ing you are us­ing a bucket toi­let, and there is noth­ing you can tell them,” Gantsho said.

An op­er­a­tor at Clover, Gantsho, who lives with his un­em­ployed wife and three chil­dren – aged three, six, and 18 – be­lieves the erad­i­ca­tion of bucket toi­lets in the en­tire Nel­son Man­dela Bay Metro would bring much­needed dig­nity and re­spect to the com­mu­nity.

The metro said it had 18 000 bucket toi­lets in the area – down from more than 32 000 in 2005. But the DA said the num­ber was closer to 30 000.

Andile Mfunda, may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber re­spon­si­ble for in­fra­struc­ture and engi­neer­ing, said the in­flux of un­em­ployed peo­ple look­ing for work in the area – peo­ple who in­vari­ably ended up liv­ing in shacks – worked against the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s ef­forts to erad­i­cate the sys­tem.

In the ANC-run metro, the bucket sys­tem is still in place in Walmer, Mis­sion­vale, Klein­skool and parts of Veeplaas.

Mfunda said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity had set aside R30 mil­lion in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year in a bid to erad­i­cate the bucket toi­let sys­tem, which it viewed as a pri­or­ity project for the metro.

“We are not only in­vest­ing in putting in san­i­ta­tion ser­vices, we are also in­vest­ing in im­prov­ing our treat­ment works sta­tions. More than R500 mil­lion has been in­vested in this project. This in­vest­ment into our treat­ment works sta­tions proac­tively deals with the load brought in by the in­creas­ing num­ber of households con­nected into the sys­tem as we con­tinue to erad­i­cate the bucket sys­tem across the metro,” he said.

The DA, which is the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion in the metro, has called Nel­son Man­dela Bay South Africa’s cap­i­tal city of the bucket toi­let sys­tem, and has ac­cused the metro of ig­nor­ing the cri­sis.

“I have writ­ten to the chair­per­son of the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion to re­quest his up­date on the sign-off and re­lease of the com­mis­sion’s re­port into the more than 30 000 bucket toi­lets in Walmer Town­ship,” said Athol Trol­lip, the DA’s Nel­son Man­dela Bay Metropoli­tan Mu­nic­i­pal­ity may­oral can­di­date.

Trol­lip this week set out to cam­paign for the metro, and Walmer Town­ship was one of his stops.

“It has now been 18 months since the SA Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing this con­tin­ued as­sault on the dig­nity of our peo­ple at the hands of the ANC govern­ment. I un­der­stand that the re­port is com­plete, and is only await­ing the sig­na­ture of chair­per­son Lawrence Mush­wana,” Trol­lip said.

Isaac Man­gena, the spokesper­son for the com­mis­sion, said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was on track and was be­ing fi­nalised.

“The mat­ter orig­i­nally re­lated to the bucket toi­let sys­tem, and the lack of wa­ter in Walmer town­ship and var­i­ous sec­tions thereof. We con­ducted two on-site in­spec­tions in the ar­eas, and man­aged to get in­for­ma­tion and sub­mis­sions from var­i­ous peo­ple that helped in our in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said.

PHOTO: LUBA­BALO NGCUKANA

LOS­ING HOPE Mpumelelo Gantsho stands be­hind his house with his bucket toi­let in Mis­sion­vale in Port El­iz­a­beth this week

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