Cape Town - One in four flush toilets inspected by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) in a number of Khayelitsha informal settlements is not working, according to the organisation.

The SJC carried out a social audit of flush toilets in Enkanini and PJS, BT and BM Sections last week.

SJC project manager Axolile Notywala said the preliminary findings showed the implementation of the janitorial service was “inconsistent and haphazard”. He said this was due to a lack of planning and consistency by the city.

The SJC inspected 528 of 888 flush toilets and interviewed 195 residents and 31 janitors. The 90-member team also perused city documents giving the operational details of the programme.

According to its preliminary findings, released on Saturday, 138 of the toilets inspected did not work.

The City of Cape Town says the audit was undertaken to “ambush” local government.

The mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said the audit was not a “fair” reflection of the janitorial system.

The city was investigating whether janitors were fulfilling their duties.

It had asked the SJC for the raw data from which it compiled its findings.

“Have they checked the validity of those findings? We were not given an opportunity to interrogate the findings before the SJC went public.”

With the findings in the public domain, many residents would regard them as fact.

Sonnenberg said the SJC had chosen the four areas because it “knew they were problematic and were in low-lying areas”.

The SJC found 78 toilets were blocked, 78 could not flush, and 65 had no water, while 31 were not connected to sewerage pipes. Its preliminary findings were that 149 toilets were dirty, 109 very dirty and 82 in such a bad state they could not be inspected.

Of the 195 residents interviewed, only 35 said their toilets were not cleaned, 65 said janitors cleaned their toilets once a week, while 32 said they were cleaned twice a week, with 28 cleaning their own toilets.

No janitors were allocated to the PJS, where there are 146 toilets, and residents were cleaning the toilets.

A final report on the audit would be released soon, the SJC said.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said in her SA Today newsletter that the city was spending about R25 million a year fixing vandalised toilets in informal settlements.

“The city is assigning a GPS code to every public toilet, which will then have its own serial number on the inside of the door, so the maintenance department can quickly target the exact toilet on the receipt of an SMS notification.”

At a cost of R60m year, the city was employing 800 janitors to clean public flush toilets in informal settlements - in addition to the company contracts to maintain and clean chemical toilets.

She said the SJC, as an NGO, should teach residents about the responsibility of looking after their toilets.

Cape Times