Mayco member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg.

Cape Town - Portable toilet tanks used in protest action for flush toilets, are being stolen at night while residents sleep, DA MP Masizole Mnqasela has alleged.

This was supported by Mayco member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg, who said the city had received reports from contractors about missing portable toilet containers. But the group that organises these protests has denied stealing the containers.

The tanks, which form part of the portable toilets equipped with a seat, hold the human waste and many residents have likened this to the bucket system.

Mnqasela, whose constituency is Khayelitsha, said some residents had complained to him that their toilets were being stolen for use in the protests.

Most of the thefts happened when the residents left them outside. Mnqasela said while driving in TR and BT sections this month a group of people in a white Ford Bantam had taken some containers placed near a bus stop for collection by contractors. This was at about 10pm, he said. “When we came closer the car took off at a very high speed. This confirmed this unthinkable act of poo activists stealing these laden poo containers to perform their daily poo protests.”

“I then realised that this operation is bigger and well organised, but it is not beyond the capacity of law enforcement.” He would ask mayor Patricia de Lille whether the tanks could be kept at a place where they could not be stolen while they waited to be collected. “Without access to these containers, the protests lose a sting and a stink. I have not been able to lay any official charges, without the name of the perpetrators in the vehicle (which) sped off.”

He said while it was their constitutional right to protest, it should be done peacefully. Lawlessness and theft would not be tolerated.

Sithembele Majova, a spokesman for the Western Cape informal settlements task team, a group that organises the protests, said Mnqasela was lying. He said residents took their tanks to the protests and were not forced to take part or give up their portable toilets.

“(Mnqasela) doesn’t stay where we stay. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. These protests are by members of the community. It is not like we go to someone’s house and steal porta pottas at gunpoint.

“When we decide that we are going to the legislature or the N2, people take their toilets because they don’t want to use them anymore,” Majova said.

Sonnenberg said there had been reports of theft of the containers. He said tanks dumped by protesters were cleaned, disinfected and given to their owners. They have barcodes that link them to their users.

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Cape Times