While driving from Pietermaritzburg to Joburg, I passed through Harrismith and, as a matter of interest, decided to have a look at the toilets in the veld.

They are in fact situated 18km from Harrismith in the middle of nowhere (which seemed to escape Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s attention) next to a small cluster of buildings which include some houses referred to as Tshiame B. The next closest township is Tshiame A, which is 4km of empty veld away The only sign of possible employment which I saw was some light industry in Tshiame A, but my impression was that the employment openings in these relatively few light industries in Tshiame A would probably be absorbed by Tshiame A’s workforce.

Mr Sexwale informs us that the people who will be placed in the houses that will eventually join the toilets will be the poorest of the poor. Surely starting off by building what seems to be outside toilets is a constitutional breach of the right to dignity of these poor people?

How are they going to get to the nearest places of possible employment? There is at least 16km of open veld between Tshiame B and Harrismith where such houses could be built – at least giving people access to the facilities of the town and more opportunities of employment. What then would happen to the already built toilets? Given that the money has been thoughtlessly spent, toilets should rather “die” of neglect than people. Of course, somebody should be answerable for the thoughtless waste of money.

Paul I Shapiro

Joburg