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Windermere Centre explains pay-to-use system for toilets

The Windermere Shopping Centre has explained its pay-to-use system to access toilets on its premises. File picture

The Windermere Shopping Centre has explained its pay-to-use system to access toilets on its premises. File picture

Published Dec 2, 2021


DURBAN - Artemis Properties, the company that owns the Windermere Shopping Centre, has explained its pay-to-use for toilets at the mall.

This comes after there was a lot of debate among shoppers about the system that was implemented on October 1. Shoppers have to pay R2 to access the toilets on the premises.

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Lauren Greef, marketing representative for Artemis Properties, said the system was put in place to regulate usage.

“The system serves to rectify the problems that we were experiencing with the bathrooms in our centre. They were being used by members of the community as public washrooms for those without bathrooms in their homes. The state that the bathrooms would be left in was absolutely unacceptable and not up to the standard that we believe our shoppers and customers deserve,” said Greef.

She further explained that the theft of toilet paper, soap, and even toilet seats, had become rife to an extent that they became unable to maintain the state of their bathrooms, even with round the clock cleaning and supervision.

“The bathrooms were constantly being cleared out of supplies at an unmanageable rate, and our patrons would arrive to find no supplies to use the bathrooms, and in more recent cases, the basins were being used as toilets for defecation. This system (pay-to-use) serves to keep our bathrooms clean and alleviate vandalism and unhygienic behaviour so that shoppers and customers may use the bathrooms when necessary and they will find the bathrooms in an acceptable state that meets the high standards that they associate with our centre,” added Greef.

Greef added that providing a quality service for their patrons remains the centre’s number one priority.

“The patrons are and always have been our priority and first point of concern and will remain so. Removing the system would mean that we cannot ensure that our bathrooms are consistently up to the high standard that they deserve,” she said.

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She emphasised that it was not the centre’s intention to infringe on the rights of its patrons, particularly the elderly.

“The elderly make up part of our patron base, and we value them enormously, which motivates the desire to provide them with sanitary bathrooms where they can feel safe,” she concluded.

Toni-Lynn Sweet, a resident and former shop owner at the centre, says she agrees with the centre’s pay-to-use system.

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“I think it's a very good thing, because a lot of people come from afar to work, and maybe need to freshen up, which is understandable. But they end up freshening up and then leave the toilet in a very bad state, which is very unfair to the cleaners and to shoppers,” said Sweet.

“I think that Windermere Centre is actually one of the better centres because they have managed to get the centre upgraded, and the way they maintain their cleanliness and hygiene is far better than the other centres around,” she said.

Sweet added that it would not be feasible for the centre to scrap the pay-to-use system as the centre would then be required to have additional security, who would have to guard the toilets while making sure that the shoppers are secure in the centre.

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Another community member, who requested anonymity, said she does not agree with the pay-to-use system.

“I feel it's a basic human right to have access to restrooms, especially somewhere as busy as a mall. A large number of pensioners frequent that mall, and now making them pay, I feel is completely unfair. As the pandemic has made millions of people adjust their lifestyles in accordance to what they can afford on a limited salary, even though the cost to use the toilet is only R2, it's unfair to expect people to now have to budget to use the restroom,” said the woman.