PMB’s own toi­lets of shame

UN­FIN­ISHED JOB: France town­ship has in­door toi­lets, but they’re use­less

Weekend Witness - - News - BONGANI HANS

IN France town­ship res­i­dents have toi­lets. The toi­lets have walls. They have an out­let pipe. But for five years these out­let pipes have re­mained un­con­nected. As a re­sult many res­i­dents started to use the por­ta­ble toi­lets that coun­cil pro­vided. But these are now full and haven’t been emp­tied for a while.

Af­ter liv­ing for more than five years with a toi­let in­side her one­room RDP house, Florence Bhengu (60) said she has yet again been promised that her prob­lem would be solved.

“For years we have been suf­fer­ing be­cause these toi­lets are fill­ing up and are spilling into houses,” she said.

“They now come here and prom­ise that they’ll fix our toi­lets of shame be­cause they want us to vote for them. They must just for­get about my vote,” she added.

How­ever, like many other res­i­dents in France — the low cost area out­side Im­bali in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg — Bhengu doubts the prom­ise. She sus­pects that it is just a ploy to get her to vote for ANC, which gov­erns Msun­duzi Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

The area falls un­der ANC coun­cil­lor Al­pha Shelembe, for­mer coun­cil speaker, who is aware of the prob­lem.

The France toi­let saga fol­lows the pat­tern of sim­i­lar prob­lems, first iden­ti­fied in DA-run Cape Town and tar­geted by the ANC, be­fore town af­ter town run by the ANC in other prov­inces were also ex­posed as hav­ing open toi­lets.

The trou­ble­some toi­let is in­side Bhengu’s house in the ex­ten­sion area of the set­tle­ment. She said she has wit­nessed mag­gots float­ing over the rim of her filled-up toi­let. She com­plained about the un­bear­able smell of fae­ces that fills her house, forc­ing fam­ily mem­bers to spend most of the time out­side.

“When this toi­let gets full. I empty


it into my bath basin and throw the dirt into my gar­den. I do this sev­eral times a week. This is shame­ful. I’m even ashamed of hav­ing vis­i­tors in my house,” she said.

Her grand­daugh­ter Slindile Nk­abinde (18) owns a nearby house. She has opted to de­mol­ish her in­ter­nal toi­let be­cause of what it does to her house.

“Dirty wa­ter would spill over and fill my whole house. So last year I de­cided to re­move the seat and cov­ered the space with soil. I now go to neigh­bours’ houses to re­lieve my­self,” said Nk­abinde.

Nk­abinde’s neigh­bours have dug holes out­side their houses, which they use to dump the ef­flu­ent from their toi­lets. Oth­ers are us­ing 41 mo­bile toi­lets, which were sup­plied to them by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity last year at a cost of R41 000 per month. Those toi­lets are now filled up and are un­us­able since the au­thor­ity last col­lected the buck­ets more than two months ago.

Ac­cord­ing to the mu­nic­i­pal spokesper­son Brian Zuma, Msun­duzi needs R2 mil­lion to sup­ply 2 000 mo­bile toi­lets in the area while there are no per­ma­nent struc­tures.

On vis­it­ing the area on Thurs­day, The Wit­ness was told that other res­i­dents are forced to fill plas­tic bags with fae­ces and throw them into nearby bushes.

“Other peo­ple just walk into the bushes to re­lieve them­selves,” said a res­i­dent.

It is al­leged that this week young women came into the area tak­ing de­tails of houses that have prob­lem­atic toi­lets.

“We have been re­port­ing the prob­lem to the mu­nic­i­pal of­fice for years and noth­ing has ever been done. Now that we are ap­proach­ing elec­tions they come here with a prom­ise of at­tend­ing to the prob­lem. They think we are stupid,” said 31year-old Tshengisile Latha.

Zuma said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­quires R90 mil­lion to erad­i­cate the prob­lem “for good”.

“We have sought the in­ter­ven­tion of the na­tional gov­ern­ment. The Depart­ment of Hu­man Set­tle­ment has promised to give us R40 mil­lion to in­stall wa­ter­borne toi­lets,” he said.

Zuma said the prob­lems were ei­ther caused by the con­struc­tor who aban­doned their work be­fore com­plet­ing the houses, or be­cause the area is so rocky it is dif­fi­cult to in­stall a proper sew­er­age sys­tem.

“Also the land in which the houses are has rocks which makes it dif­fi­cult to dig sep­tic tanks,” Zuma said.


France res­i­dent Nom­bulelo Mnikathi points to the toi­let out­let pipe at her house that was never con­nected to the sewer sys­tem. IN­SET: Mnikathi next to a mo­bile toi­let pro­vided by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity to her fam­ily. Many of these toi­lets are un­us­able be­cause they have not been emp­tied for months.

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