Brown’s Farm community lives in a stink

Business owner, Nikiwe Mangali, says life is difficult as they have to deal with a blocked drain daily.

Life stinks for some of the residents of Desmond Tutu Street and the surrounding areas, in Philippi.

Despite numerous appeals to authorities to sort out a problematic sewer, they are hitting a brick wall.

According to residents, this has been an ongoing problem for several years, particularly over the weekends, evenings and mornings – when everyone in the neighbourhood is around. “You see faeces spilling over. It is disgusting,” said resident and business owner, Nikiwe Mangali.

When Vukani visited the area on Friday September 28, human excrement and used toilet paper were clearly visible in a section of the road, between Tsakane and Sinqolamthi streets.

As a security measure for motorists and children, residents have placed old tyres on the corner of Sinqolamthi and Desmond Tutu streets, where a manhole has been forced open by the overflowing sewage.

An unbearable stench makes breathing impossible.

With temperatures expected to increase over the coming months, residents say things will only get worse.

They say municipal workers have been working tirelessly to help, but their efforts have been hampered because they do not have the proper tools.

Ms Mangali said they have reported the problem many times. “We cannot blame the workers,” she said.

“They always come, but they are not sorting out the real problem. They just drain the water and clean. In some cases they do not even clean.”

With a slight breeze blowing through the area as Vukani talked to Ms Mangali, she said: “We are indebted to today’s wind. Otherwise, we would have been really battling.”

Ms Mangali’s doorway faces the problematic drain, something she feels puts her entire family at risk of contracting airborne diseases.

“My children are always developing skin rashes,” she said.

While Ms Mangali was happy for the breeze, others were battling the stench as the wind blew the smell into their homes.

Another resident, Aviwe Ntshoko, said her main concern was the children who played around the mess, putting themselves at risk.

She also feared they may climb into the manhole when not monitored. “For a child, if a sweet falls onto this dirt they just pick it up and give it a small clean up and eat it,” she said.

Ward councillor Fikiswa Nkunzana blamed the problem on “over population”, the “dumping of foreign objects” into the drain as well as “laziness” among council workers. “Sometimes they (municipal workers) see and know the problem, but they are not fixing it,” she said.

She added that the problem experienced in Desmond Tutu Street was common all over Brown’s Farm. “The infrastructure cannot cope with the amount of people,” said Ms Nkunzana.

She said an overhaul of the drainage system was planned. “The budget for it has been approved. It is a matter of getting the money,” she said.

Meanwhile Ms Nkunzana appealed to residents to work with the municipality to address some of the challenges.

“We need to work as a collective. We have been having awareness initiatives addressing people about what to throw in the drain and what not. People must learn to put some of the things in plastic bags and put them in their green bags,” she said.

The City of Cape Town had promised to respond, but had not done so at the time of going to print.