‘We desperately need toilet cleaners to return’

By Daneel Knoetze Time of article published Jun 7, 2013

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Cape Town - Residents in Kosovo say they are “shocked” and “saddened” that Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has lumped them with criminals that attacked city toilet cleaning staff in recent weeks.

On Wednesday, De Lille announced a suspension of toilet cleaning services in four informal settlements, including Kosovo, because of safety concerns for sanitation staff.

Mayoral committee member for utilities Ernest Sonnenberg told the Cape Argus that some residents threatened city staff with violence on Saturday as they tried to clean toilets in Kosovo.

This follows violent panga and brick attacks on staff, respectively in Kanana, Gugulethu and the Boystown area.

At an event to demonstrate the settlement’s lack of sanitation to the media, Kosovo ANC ward councillor Nico Mzalisi on Thursday urged residents to remain peaceful. He asked a gathered crowd of around 200 people not to attack city staff, vandalise city property or dump faeces to demonstrate their frustration.

Resident Victor Gulwa said Kosovo was in “desperate need” of these services and that he wanted the cleaners to return. He gave the Cape Argus a tour of the worst affected areas

Gulwa said bucket toilets had not been cleaned for at least two months. In early April, Sannicare workers – contracted by the city to provide the service – went on strike.

People have apparently been dumping human waste on the roadside at informal dump sites used for anything from rotting food to general household refuse. The smell of sewage was pervasive at these sites.

Holding his nose, Gulwa opened the door to one of these bucket toilets. The sudden stench sent fellow residents fleeing.

Nearby, a series of flush toilets dating from 2006 lie broken, but not disused.

Nonzwakazi Sibili, who lives near the the toilets’ concrete walls, said people came in the middle of the night to break the structures’ locks so they could relieve themselves.

She said her three-year-old grandson was ill from living so close to half a dozen piles of human waste.

“Sipelo was healthy when he came to live here four months ago. Now he has TB and diarrhoea,” she said.

Later, residents led Mzalisi, controversial suspended ANC Youth League member Andile Lili and current ANCYL member Loyiso Nkohla on a similar tour.

Lili and Nkohla gained instant notoriety earlier this week when images of them dumping human faeces on the steps of the provincial legislature made headlines. The incident sparked the so-called “faeces wars”. A day later, protesters threw faeces at Premier Helen Zille’s convoy in Khayelitsha.

On Wednesday, the provincial branch of the ANCYL publicly distanced itself from Lili and Nkohla’s actions and the subsequent protests.

An ANCYL national task team member added on Thursday that “tough action” against the duo was imminent.

Lili remained unapologetic and said on Thursday that the invitation to view the conditions in Kosovo vindicated him.

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Cape Argus

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