Somebody must take responsibility for the open toilets in Viljoenskroon, in the Free State, ANC Youth League president Julius Malema said on Tuesday.
“Heads must roll,” he said nearly a week before South Africa goes to the polls in the local government elections.
Malema was inspecting open toilets in the Rammulotsi township, near Viljoenskroon, in the ANC-run Moqhaka municipality.
He said no municipalities should provide open toilets. It should not even cross their minds.
Malema said if a municipality did not have enough money to build a fully-enclosed toilet, it should not even begin.
Last month, the Western Cape High Court ordered the DA-led City of Cape Town to enclose 1316 toilets in the Makhaza settlement on the Cape Flats.
On Tuesday, Malema, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, ANC heavyweight Tony Yengeni and Free State premier Ace Magashule were part of a delegation which descended on Rammulotsi and promised immediate delivery.
“Tomorrow [Wednesday] there will be action,” Malema promised after speaking to Mantsho Ndesi, 60, at her house, where a faded white toilet stood in the corner of the yard.
The toilet, on a cement slab, was built 15 metres from the house.
She had made a special request that it be accessible by wheelchair for her husband.
Fresh building material such as sand, cement and new steel doorframes was piled in the street in front of Ndesi's house.
Two houses down the street, a toilet had already been enclosed.
Free State premier Ace Magashule inspected the structure as the contractor put his finishing touches to it from a scaffold.
Magashule repeated the ANC's earlier comment that it had not known about the open toilets.
“We were not aware,” he said, adding that the provincial government learnt about the situation in the newspapers.
Sarah Radebe, 60, said she could not remember how many years her toilet, now enclosed with a dilapidated sink, had stood open.
Pule Rampopo, 31, said people without money could not enclose their toilets.
“Those that can get money, they have closed their toilets,” she said.
On Tuesday, Malema's message to those in the street was that the ANC's leadership had come to Rammulotsi and that things would happen.
“This old woman must say that the ANC was here and that her plight will be taken care of. They [the toilets] will be closed.”
Mbalula said Moqhaka mayor Mantebu Mokgosi and municipal manager Mcedisi Mqwathi had explained that the toilets would be enclosed in phases.
“We condemn open toilets. It's inhumane...,” said Mbalula.
He said no human being could live that way. “There's no privacy, no humanity and no dignity.”
Yengeni said the ANC's national working committee first saw a report on the Viljoenskroon situation on Monday.
“There's no excuse for this. People in the municipality must take full responsibility.”
Yengeni said the ANC could not condemn others and allow people in its own camp to do this.
Later in the afternoon, Malema and the ANC delegation addressed a cheering crowd in the newly built Kgabareng secondary school hall.
Letia Mohlosane, 51, watched from her shack. She has no toilet yet and still uses the bucket system. She does have running water on tap.
Asked what she thought of the huge ANC's presence in town she had little to say.
“Vote? Nee, gaan praat saam met Malema en se ons huil,” (Vote? No, go and talk to Malema and tell him we are crying) she said.
The SA Human Rights Commission is investigating the Viljoenskroon open toilet issue case and is expected to give details at a later stage.
It has been alleged that there are 1620 open toilets in Rammulotsi. - Sapa