Pit toilet: File picture: Bongiwe Mchunu/Independent Media
EDITOR'S VIEW - The uncollected sewage stuck in pit toilets in residents’ homes in the city’s northern townships of KwaMashu and Besters is a disaster waiting to happen.

The failure to empty the Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) toilets in Ward 5 and 47 has the potential to cause untold harm to residents such as spreading diseases and serious environmental degradation.

The city’s executive committee this week revealed that the conditions are so inhumane that if not addressed it may lead to the city being taken to court.

City manager Sipho Nzuza, who went on a site visit to the area recently, told councillors the situation was very sad.

“The houses were full of faeces. It was terrible, and there were kids playing around in that environment. I just said to myself this is a disaster waiting to happen,” said Nzuza.

We are elated that councillors have agreed to make R40million available to drain about 21000 toilets across the city. We hope that such funding will be used wisely and will not end up in the pockets of politically connected individuals who will fail to render required service.

As a matter of urgency, the city has to undertake an audit to establish the number of such toilets as there are indications the figure could be as high as 48000. Even ward councillors assisted by their ward committees can assist in helping the council determine the number of such toilets in their wards.

Mayor Zandile Gumede defended the city at the exco meeting, saying the terrain in some of these areas made it difficult for the drainage trucks to reach the houses. She also said the houses were built by the previous government and could not be blamed on the ANC.

If the landscape is the issue, the government should seek to build proper toilets for the residents of Besters and KwaMashu. After all, the Constitution guarantees people’s rights to basic sanitation.

This matter is very urgent, and the ANC government cannot afford to have a sewage scandal at its doorstep, especially with the national elections taking place next year.

The Mercury