KRISTEN VAN SCHIE
For seven years, the toilet behind Richard Majila’s home was enclosed with uncemented bricks and a rickety wooden door.
It was dangerous, recalls Majila, but better than the rusted zinc sheets they’d used when the open toilets were first built in Rammolutsi informal settlement near Viljoenskroon around 1995.
It was these informally covered toilets that were the sticking point of the local government elections in May.
After berating the DA for building open toilets in the Western Cape, the ANC had to admit that it had done the same thing in the Moqhaka Municipality in the Free State.
Though the municipality says construction of the enclosures had already begun in August last year, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe swore that the party would “take serious action”.
And to the benefit of the Rammolutsi community, it has. Viljoenskroon mayor Mantebu Mokgosi, who was director of the company hired to build the toilets, found herself out in the cold after the elections.
Gone, too, are the uncemented bricks and rickety door of Majila’s toilet. In their place, a solid, cemented structure with grey brick door.
They’re all over the settlement, 1 673 of the 1 831 toilets now covered – properly.
Just next door, however, Themjiwe Masomba is still waiting; hers is one of the 158 toilets still uncovered. When she saw construction workers building at Majila’s house, she disassembled the rusted zinc walls in anticipation for their visit to her house. Two weeks later, she’s still waiting after payment and supply issues. If construction stays on track, the project should be complete by the middle of this month.
As for Majila, he doesn’t care that it took so long. “I’m just happy they finally did it,” he says.
And all it took was 16 years and an election.