200 residents share one stinking public toilet
About 200 residents in an East London township share a single communal toilet while live, naked electricity cables lie there exposed.
Residents said three people have been electrocuted to death in 18 months.
This is all happening close to a crèche, a clinic and a primary school in Mzamomhle township, Gonubie, placing the lives and health of children at great risk.
When the Daily Dispatch visited the area on Friday, the deadly electricity wires were clearly seen running above the ground.
Only one out of six communal toilets worked. The Daily Dispatch saw three residents in a queue, waiting for a someone occupying the toilet. One exposed cubicle overflowed with human faeces.
A stench coming from the toilet and the piles of rubbish on the streets greets you as you get to the township.
DA councillor Marion Mackley described the area as a health hazard.
Nosimelo Ngwemntu, a resident for three years, said several children from the area had sores due to the conditions.
“The queues of people waiting to go to the toilet becomes so long sometimes that it’s just unbearable, but what can we do?
“If I had options, I would leave this place because it seems the municipality doesn’t care at all,” she said.
Having lived in the area for barely six months, Anele Sangweni wants out because of the cables and the water and sanitation issues in the area.
He said even older people were starting to grow sores on their bodies.
Speaking to the Dispatch while waiting for two residents before him to use the toilet, Sangweni said: “Nobody is doing anything about this. The only clean toilet that we had [on Friday] will not be cleaned for a long period again.”
A stench permeates the air near the facilities in the area and Mackley, pointing out to the dump strewn across an open space adjacent to the school, said the municipality had not bothered to collect the rubbish in months.
While East London police spokesperson Captain Hazel Mqala could not verify the number of deaths from electrocution in the area, she confirmed they had dealt with incidents of electrocutions in Mzamomhle, Duncan Village and Bhongweni.
Mqala said all the incidents stemmed from illegal electricity connections.
Mackley said the only way to curtail illegal connections in the area was to connect residents to the electricity grid by way of giving them electricity metres.
Mayor Xola Pakati said the city’s law enforcement agency disconnected illegal wiring regularly in areas like Mzamomhle, but residents simply reconnected the illegal wires as soon as they had left.
“We don’t support illegal connections. We do have a plan for electrifying informal settlements,” he said, adding that it would be impossible to connect all the townships at a rapid speed.
Pakati said he was not aware of a dumpsite near the school, but promised to make a call so that it could be cleared.
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said: “BCM is aware of five electrocutions between 2013 and 2017 in the Mzamomhle area. These have all resulted due to illegal electricity connections which are run along the ground and are highly dangerous.
“BCM has a continuous daily illegal electricity removals exercise where this team removes illegal connections from the network, but in this area, illegal connectors are continuously connecting to our network, which result in dangerous and life-threatening situations for the local community.”..