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By Esther Lewis
Dead rats, stagnant pools of dark-green murky water and rubbish heaps are constant fixtures in the lives of some Khayelitsha residents, who took to the streets to highlight their living conditions.
About 100 CCT section residents marched peacefully
through the streets on Sunday. Their message was simple: "No house, no vote." Another banner read: "Frogs don't vote."
This was in reference to how people had to jump from stone to stone to avoid walking through pools of green sludge throughout the area.
People started moving into CCT Section 10 years ago.
Community leader Vuyelwa Govuza said several politicians had visited their homes and talked about helping them, but their situation had remained unchanged.
Their biggest concern was the number of people falling ill because of the unhygienic conditions.
While standpipes were functional, they were surrounded by murky, green water and knee-high grass.
Women and children collecting water had to balance on two rocks next to the tap so they did not slip into the dirty water. "It's never dry here, not even in the summer," said Govuza.
Heaps of black bags filled with rubbish collected on corners, and residents claimed their dirt was seldom collected.
Near one of these dumps, a large rat lay dead. Govuza said rats often bit children.
Resident Edward Sixholo said people were also fed up with the Porta-Potti system because they were emptied only weekly.
When the Porta-Potties are full, residents slip through the concrete fencing which separates them from the N2 and relieve themselves next to the highway.
The community lives next to a wetland. The marshes are not fenced off.
Last November the Cape Argus reported that a 30-year-old man fell into the marshes while walking through the dark area. He spent nearly two hours in the water before being rescued, but later died.
According to residents, four children have drowned in the wetlands.
"We are tired of empty promises. If things don't change and we don't get proper houses, we simply won't vote," said Govuza.
City of Cape Town housing director Hans Smit said while the city was able to provide only 9 000 "housing opportunities" a year, demand was double that.
"We are doing our best. But we are looking at new strategies to address the issue," said Smit.
On Saturday residents protesting against a lack of service delivery allegedly vandalised a drain valve connected to the city's water main.
At least 20 low-lying homes and parked cars were flooded.
City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said repair teams were withdrawn when protesters became "volatile and riotous", but returned later.
Teams were sent in again on Sunday to clear the area. "We won't tolerate anyone deliberately damaging council property. Those guilty will be prosecuted," said Solomons-Johannes.