Cape Town - Sinoxolo Mafevuka could still be alive if she had a proper toilet to go to.
This was the view of about 100 Khayelitsha residents who marched to the Civic Centre to hand over a petition signed by more than 5 000 calling for more money to be spent on water and sanitation.
The Social Justice Coalition’s (SJC) Axolile Notywala said using toilets in informal settlements had become a matter of life and death.
“Sinoxolo died in a communal toilet. She had to walk outside at night. That wouldn’t have happened if she had a proper toilet.
“Many more are dying because they have to use communal toilets.”
Notywala said they will attend mayor Patricia de Lille’s budget speech on Wednesday, and they want to hear her allocate more money to the water and sanitation budget to be used in Khayelitsha.
“Last year we went there and she called us names and said we cannot count. This time we will be there with our calculators.
“Only 1 percent of the water and sanitation budget is used for Khayelitsha.”
Notywala said they wanted long-term solutions and would keep coming back until they see them.
SJC spokesman Joel Bregman said in a cost analysis they had carried out, providing flush toilets would cost less than the current temporary solutions.
“We want the city to shift away from viewing informal settlements as temporary solutions. People have been living there for decades.
“We want them to shift away from providing informal structures and provide more permanent solutions. A lot of the technologies they provide are undignified and unsafe.”
The residents complained that using communal toilets was not only a hazard to their safety, but also their health.
Site B resident Nomlungiso Qezo said she and other women spent a lot of time at the clinic because of infections they got from using the toilets.
“These toilets make us sick. We get infections and get itchy down there and have to go to the clinic regularly. It is also destroying the health of our children.”
She said small children usually suffered from diarrhoea and stomach aches.
“We want toilets that are close by and that we can rely on, and know we can go to any time and not get sick.”
Lunga Nganyaza, from Site C said, if they had proper toilets, they would possibly have better drainage systems and their homes wouldn’t be flooded after it rained.
“We just want a better life. We have a lot of challenges there in Khayelitsha. It is unfair the quality of services we have to accept. We want something that is more long term.”
The petition was received by community facilitator in the mayor’s office, Elgan Fortune.
The mayor’s spokeswoman, Pierrinne Leukes, said this year’s budget proposed that R559.7 million would be spent on informal settlements. “About one-third of this will be spent on Khayelitsha.”
She confirmed the petition was received, and that the city would “respond in due course”.