120530. Cape Town. The Wetland area behind the RR Section of Khayelitsha where most people dump their rubbish is one of the hot spot areas where rats as big as cats have been spotted. Rats are becomming an increasingly bigger problem in suburbs of cape town including the cbd. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus. Reporter Bronwynne Jooste

The Mother City has been overrun by rats the size of cats.


Residents report that the brazen rodents are coming into their homes and biting them.

Lungiswa James, the mayoral committee member for health, described in the council this week how the problem was citywide, but was especially focused in the city centre and informal settlements.

It’s estimated that there are four rats for every human in Cape Town.

Residents in Khayelitsha told the Cape Argus on Wednesday that even cats failed to deter the rats.

RR section in Khayelitsha was identified as one of the areas with a major rat problem.

Monde Nqulwana, the local ward councillor, said the rats appeared to have grown in size over the past few years. “We used to use the cats to chase the rats, now even the cats run away.”

During this week’s council meeting, James said: “Sometimes we hear they are even biting our children.”

The new budget was passed at the meeting.

In the next financial year, the health department will spend R530 000 on buying rat poison.

He said it had been an ongoing problem. The rats were found where they had easy access to food, like the city centre where there were many restaurants. Informal settlements were also breeding grounds, where there was “illegal dumping or poor waste management”.


James said the rising cost of rat poison also “contributed to the challenges of managing rodents”.

“In accordance with international best practice, the City of Cape Town proactively manages the areas where rodent breeding occurs by traditional baiting methods…

“Baiting has increased over the last few years,” James said.

As part of the Expanded Public Works Programme, people were being trained to distribute pamphlets, advise residents on rat control and monitor the baiting points.


“Unfortunately, as in other large cities across the world, rodents will never be completely eradicated, especially in the presence of dense human settlements, a steady supply of food wastes and the absence of predators.”


Yesterday, Nqulwana said refuse was not collected regularly in RR section, which led to a build-up of rubbish – a major attraction for the rats. And each resident was given only two refuse bags for the entire week.

Rats hid under the refuse containers and in communal toilets, the wetlands and blocked stormwater drains.

Zameka Rasmeni told how a rat had nibbled on her foot one night as she sat in her home. “I just screamed and it ran out. I don’t even want to sleep at night.”

Another resident, Catherine Tsholoba, said the rats had chewed their way through her groceries. “They come in and they make a mess and they stink.

“Even if you leave poison out, it seems they’re aware of that.”

Nqulwana said he planned to meet volunteers from the Expanded Public Works Programme to discuss their progress. Raising awareness was part of the solution, but he said it was important to have public meeting with residents to assess their main concerns around the problem. - Cape Argus