Imagine waking up to find your home flooded with sewage.
For a pensioner living in Umlazi, this has been a regular occurrence for more than 10 years.
But after trying in vain to get the eThekwini municipality to do something about it, last year a desperate Nkosinathi Zungu eventually turned to the courts for help.
And last week, he won.
Durban High Court Judge Nompumelelo Radebe ordered the municipality to extend the sewer reticulation in order to deal with the problem and to do so within five months.
He was also awarded costs.
In an affidavit Zungu said his neighbour had dug a pit to drain waste from his toilet.
That pit was regularly overflowing and the waste seeping into Zungu’s home.
“The odour is unbearable and anyone who enters our home has to cross over the waste first,” Zungu said.
“Apart from the embarrassment, it is also a health hazard.
“We have four children, all of whom have their own children, and they regularly visit us.
“They are accordingly also exposed to unhealthy and hazardous conditions on a regular basis.”
Zungu bought the property in Obed Kunene Avenue in 1988 and he and his family had lived there for almost 30 years.
“There were plots of land behind our property… it was initially one large plot: however thereafter it was sub-divided…
“My neighbours’ property is immediately behind our’s… All of the plots in and around the area are not connected to a sewer system,” he explained.
He said his neighbour had moved in about 10 years ago.
“Due to the property not having any sewage system, our neighbour dug a big hole and since the property is higher than our property, the hole is situated at the bottom of a slope, which is literally at the back of our property.
“Our neighbour has a pipe running directly into the hole which carries their waste from their toilet into the hole,” Zungu said. “When the hole gets full it overflows on to our property, seeps down the bank and along our property, down the driveway and on to the main road.
“It also seeps through our stormwater pipe which releases water on to the main road. Whenever there are heavy rains, the hole overflows and floods into our house through the back entrance.”
Zungu said he first reported the problem to the city in 2006.
He said he was promised that the hole would be drained regularly.
“This was never done. I would call approximately four times each month to report the problem, but to no avail,” he said.
In 2007, the city informed Zungu that it wanted to extend the sewer reticulation but it wanted to construct the extension along a route across his property.
He objected to this and the city agreed to investigate an alternate route.
But nothing ever happened.
Last year, he got a civil engineer to prepare a report on the sewerage water in his neighbour’s pit. It showed that the situation was “a serious violation of the building regulations”.
Zungu said he and his family would continue being exposed to “unhealthy and hazardous” conditions until the problem was fixed.
And, he said, his neighbour’s property was an undeveloped site before he moved in and the municipality should have developed the land and installed sewerage pipes before he moved in.
The municipality did not file papers in the matter.
Approached for comment on the matter, Mthunzi Gumede, spokesperson for eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede, said he was not aware of the court order and would therefore need to consult with the city’s legal department before addressing it.