Blocked drains anger Mxenge residents

Victoria Mgxenge residents want their overflowing drains fixed.

A group of angry Victoria Mxenge residents picketed peacefully at Fezeka municipal offices in Gugulethu, to express their frustration over blocked drains which overflows with raw faeces.

A group of women visited the municipal offices recently, carrying placards demanding that the City of Cape Town fix the blocked drains.

According to the residents, their drains had been overflowing with sewage for a year. They said despite having reported the matter numerous times to their ward councillor, Nkululeko Mgolombane and City officials, nothing had been done to resolve it.

They said the stench had become a “normal thing”.

Resident Nokangelani Roji said for a year they had been subjected to living with blocked and overflowing drains.

At times, she said, they opted not to open their windows and doors because the smell was so unbearable.

Another resident, Beth Matolongwe, said what angered her the most was that they felt their complaints were being ignored.

Ms Matolongwe said sometimes municipal trucks drove around their community but ignored the flood of faeces.

Ms Roji said having to deal with the daily sight and smell of human waste overflowing on the street had become their reality.

She said the people who marched to the municipal offices were elderly women who were worried about their health. “We fear for our health.

These faeces are seeping through our houses.

Sometimes when you close the door and windows, the smell somehow finds its way through the house.

“I sometimes lose my appetite because honestly you cant eat when there is this stench. Our immune systems are vulnerable and now we have this.

“Some people in our area have tested positive for the coronavirus, meaning that their immune systems are weak and now this. We simply want the City to fix the drains – is that too much to ask?”

Ms Roji said another worrying issue was the daily interruption of their electricity supply.

This, she said, was mainly caused by the establishment of the Ramaphosa informal settlement whose residents illegally connected to their electricity supply.

Ever since, she said, there had been ongoing conflict over their electricity transformers which had been damaged, and they had resorted to staying up at night to safeguard their electricity sub-stations.

Meanwhile, Mr Mgolombane has vehemently denied the accusations levelled against him, arguing that he had reported the matter a number of times and that the City’s workers were causing the delay.

He added that the drains were difficult to access.

However, he said he recently visited the area to attend to the electricity issue and that it would soon be resolved.

Mayoral committee member for waste and water, Xanthea Limberg, said the City was aware of the problem and was working as quickly as possible to implement a permanent solution.

The root cause of the flooding, she said, was cable theft which affected the sewerage pump station.

However, she said, illegal dumping of materials like rags and litter into the system had also damaged the pump station, and they were waiting for parts needed to effect the repairs.

Unfortunately, she said, the lockdown had delayed work.

Once the repairs were completed, she said, the City would adjust the electricity voltage in order to deter cable thieves.

“For the time being, a mobile generator is brought on site daily to keep the system running, but this presents its own challenges as the generator is also a target for criminals, especially at night.

“The City appeals to residents to report illegal dumping and cable theft, “ she said.