Close to 200 Buffalo City families have been reduced to drinking water from dirty public toilets since thieves broke the connections to their communal taps.
Residents of Fynbos squatter camp in Buffalo Flats, who were moved to temporary shelters early last year as the Metro is planning to build them proper houses, have to share 20 public toilets between over 2000 souls – but of the 20 toilets, only one still flushes.
The rest, although broken and vandalised, are still used by residents.
Now the available communal taps have run dry and the only source of drinking water comes from inside the toilets.
Speaking to the Daily Dispatch team on Tuesday, Xoliswa Yali lamented their plight.
“Where do you see people drinking from the same water that is inside the toilet itself? We have been degraded to nothing, this is filth. Farm animals are better than us,” said Yali.
When Dispatch team visited the area, many residents were queuing for water outside the public toilets while some community members were busy using them.
Many were seated on toilets exposed because there are no doors.
“This is a daily occurrence here, we really can’t help it,” said Yali.
Resident Patience Mnonophi said the problem was that their temporary shelters were not fenced, making it easy for people from other areas to vandalise their taps.
“Such is the life of a poor person in a rich South Africa. We are heading towards our elections while our conditions have not improved.
“We need fencing for these temporary structures, electricity, and proper running water,” said Mnonophi.
The residents were moved from Fynbos phase 1 and 2 in April last year in preparation for the construction company to move in and start a new low-cost housing development.
Two years later, there are no signs of activity.
Nontombi Nyembezi, who stays in one of the temporary shelters, said the shelters were not strong and were always cold and wet.
“We have lost eight people who have died of cold because of these shelters.
“My shelter is leaking.
“Shacks are better than this,” she said.
Community leader Nobuntu Pamlana said they were dealing with the issues.
“Honestly speaking we can’t have our people living in squalor like this, it is making so many people get sick.
“Our ward councillor is aware of this,” said Pamlana.
BCM Ward 10 councillor Irene Brauns said she was aware of the problems.
“The problem is there are people who are using drugs. They steal the water connection pipes and sell them.
“We are working to fix the problem soon. I’ve spoken to the construction company about this,” said Brauns. — firstname.lastname@example.org