Durban - Residents in parts of KwaMashu hostel have been forced to use buckets after the eThekwini Municipality removed the communal portable toilets to make way for the new flush system.
But the new toilets are not yet operational, and the buckets are being emptied on the ground.
Ironically the new toilets are being installed as part of a programme to eradicate the bucket system, which is still in use in many of the informal settlements in KwaZulu-Natal.
Municipality spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said the toilets needed to be connected to the sewerage system before they could be used.
There are now fears of a health hazard.
Residents said they were forced to empty the buckets on the pavements or in nearby streams as there was no other means to dispose of the waste.
One resident, Nomgcobo Phungula, said the portable toilets had been removed a week ago by the city.
Some are even resorting to digging holes in the packed informal settlement to dispose of the waste.
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said there were concerns about the health of their children who often played in the streams where the waste was being dumped.
Jabulile Shandu said the violence in the area had forced many of them to resort to the bucket system at night.
The communal toilets were used to empty the buckets in the morning.
“We depend on these buckets and the norm is that we empty them into the toilets that are provided. But now we do not know what to do. The communal toilets have been taken away and the new ones are closed,” she said.
In his recent State of the Province address, premier Senzo Mchunu described the bucket system as degrading and indecent. He called for it to be eradicated as a matter of urgency.
In the eThekwini region there were 1 575 households that still used the bucket system, Mchunu had said at the time. He pledged that about 60 ablution facilities would be provided to these communities at a cost of R25 million.
The deadline to meet this target was March 30.
When the Daily News visited KwaMashu on Tuesday, municipal workers were hard at work installing the new container toilets.
Each container – which will be shared by an average of 25 households – has three toilets and two shower cubicles.
Mchunu’s spokesman, Ndabe Sibiya, said the premier had given strict instructions to district mayors to conduct audits of how many households still used the “barbaric” bucket system in their respective municipalities.
He said Mchunu was expected to meet mayors on March 27, to discuss the issues of water and sanitation.
“The premier wants to see this prioritised and has given a strict deadline (of September 31) for the eradication of the bucket system.”
The provision of sanitation and other service delivery issues was expected to top the agenda at a council meeting scheduled to take place at the Rotary Stadium, in KwaMashu, on Wednesday.
The meeting had initially been scheduled for next week Thursday but was brought forward.
This has infuriated opposition parties who believe that the meeting is being used as an election campaign platform by the ANC-dominated council.
The by-election for Ward 39 will take place on March 26.
It will be contested by the ANC, NFP and IFP.
DA councillor, Zwakele Mncwango, has already written to the IEC expressing his concerns that holding the council meeting in the volatile ward could further fuel tension in the area.
He believes that the ANC will use the meeting to campaign, a notion Mofokeng was quick to dismiss.
“Just recently we had a council meeting in uMbumbulu. There was no by-election in that area but we went there.”
Mofokeng said by taking the council “to the people” the city ensured that all ratepayers were “exposed to council processes”.
He added KwaMashu had been chosen as a venue for the meeting as it had been identified as one of the areas in serious need of development.
Mdu Nkosi, the leader of the IFP caucus in the municipality, said he believed development in KwaMashu was not being given priority by the municipality because it is an IFP stronghold.
“The city has a budget of over R30 billion, it is therefore unjustifiable that there are people still living like this.
“All the other hostels are way better than this. What is preventing the city from developing this one?” he said.
‘These thugs must leave’
THE IFP has called for the removal of police in the strife-torn KwaMashu hostel after the killing of one of its members.
Velenkosi Mhayise was killed, allegedly by members of the SAPS’s National Intervention Unit (NIU) deployed at the hostel.
According to the IFP, Mhayise had been asleep when police stormed his room. Mhayise’s girlfriend managed to escape, the IFP said.
The party’s deputy national chairman, Albert Mncwango, said the police had turned to thugs.
“How can they kill a person when he is enjoying the warmth of his girlfriend? What danger was that person?” Mncwango asked.
The IFP visited the hostel on Tuesday as part of its weekly campaign of issue-specific manifesto launches.
“We did not say we wanted thugs in this area but we said we wanted police. So these thugs must leave this area with utmost urgency. We do not want a trigger-happy NIU”.