No flush toilets for Taliban

Lungelwa Nene in front of the communal pit toilet. Picture by Thamsanqa Mbovane.
Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Hundreds of residents of Taliban Informal Settlement are forced to use one filthy pit toilet as they desperately continue to live in an area alongside their school-going children, spouses and grandchildren.

The area has no water and sanitation. Also it has no electricity, and has about 200 shacks, occupied in 2003. Among the people who occupied an open piece of land were backyard dwellers, homeless and unemployed people of KwaNobuhle township in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape.

But most of the time when nature calls or people want to relieve themselves, they do it uncomfortably. It’s because the only pit toilet they use is frequently visited by children, parents and sometimes passers-by, who form part of the over one hundred users.

Lungelwa Nene, a mother of two children aged six and 11, said: “The pit toilet is stinking endless, making it difficult to eat, breathe and sleep. When using it, you have to be careful, whether you are a child or grown up. You might drown in there and die if you are not careful! When our children go in there, they can’t go alone. We often have to hold a child while he or she is relieving himself or herself. Meanwhile you have to endure the smell and at the same time holding a child tightly. If a child slip from your hands, that could result in drowning in human waste or death.”

She said there are over a 100 people using the toilet. “You can’t flush it because it’s a pit toilet. Nobody even wants to clean it because it is dirty already. In fact you can’t even use Handy Andy because the toilet was built on planks.”

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According to ward 45 councillor Monde Vaaltyn, these people built their shacks on a clay soil and therefore they only have them- selves to blame as the area is not suitable to live in.

“However, we are planning to move these people to Area 11 in Gunguluza. It is where they can stay in a conducive environment. There is an RDP project in area 11 that is in progress. Nobody can be allowed to stay in Taliban because it is uncomfortable to stay there, but these people occupied an open piece of land illegally. They have been staying there at their own risk since 2003.”

Resident Nomvuyo Mithiyo (45) also from Taliban said: “We are going in the pit toilet in big numbers. Our children have rash skins, and we frequently visit clinics. Some times when we see a child entering a toilet alone, we have to scold him or her. I came here in 2003 in September. We have been told that we will be moved to area 11 soon and they made that promise a er the vote. The pit toilet was built by a man who asked R5 from each of us to make it available.”

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