Having to deal with the sight and smell of human waste has become the “new normal” for the residents of NY 141, in Gugulethu.
Daily, they are exposed to streams of faeces flowing down their street. And the unbearable smell welcomes you from a distance.
When Vukani visited the area on Friday January 26, irate residents were still battling to come to terms with their situation. They said the stench had become a “normal thing”.
They accused the City of Cape Town of failing to address the problem of blocked drains and an ageing sewer infrastructure.
Residents who spoke to Vukani said they made numerous calls to the City of Cape Town’s Fezeka offices, but nothing has happened. They claimed that the municipality did little to solve the problem.
Resident Nolwandle Goqo said the sewer overflows in her yard and she was fed up with the foul stench coming from a sewer leak opposite her house.
Ms Goqo said she has been dealing with the smell for years now and has complained to the municipality but it does not help.
“The faeces has been coming out from December last year and no one cares about that. But it is not only coming out from December, this is a yearly occurrence for us. Every year we are faced with the s**t.
“Our children get sick now and then. This has affected my kitchen too. My pipe to the kitchen is always blocked when this happens. I am sick and tired of this. The Fezeka offices just do not care. That is all I can say,” said the angry resident.
She said she was far from happy because she cannot even open the windows.
She said residents on the street are now tired of reporting something that is not solved.
“It is annoying to stay in this situation. You are forced to close your windows and doors even if it is this hot. You cannot enjoy your food because the bad smell is all over the place. You lose your appetite,” she said.
Another resident, who only gave her name as Mavuyi, described how the stench became unbearable when temperatures soared. She also blamed the Fezeka municipality for not caring “about its own black people”.
She said her name is in the books of Fezeka and they hate to hear her voice because they know why she is calling.
“Had it been white people, they would run up and down. This current problem has been there for more than a month. In December we had funerals and imigidi with this problem in existence. Why is it not solved or change the pipe system, maybe it is old. Some children play here. This is hazardous to say the least,” she said.
She said asthmatic people in the area are having difficulty breathing. She said the inhaling of these bad odours is not good for anyone.
Siyabulela Mamkeli, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral committee member for area central said that, after conducting a site visit, there are currently no blockages in the areas mentioned.
He said blockages that have been reported were addressed in a very short period of time.
“It is important to note that blockages often occur again soon after they have been attended to. Unfortunately, blockages like this occur far too regularly as a result of abuse of the sewer system. Most recently when clearing blockages, the City found building rubble, sticks, bundles of hair extensions, cutlery, animal carcasses, rags and even microwave ovens, among other things, dumped into its sewers,” he said.
He added that the City carries out regular education and awareness campaigns across Cape Town to raise awareness about this issue.
He pleaded with residents to work with the City to ensure that the sewer system functions properly.