Residents of Ekuphumleni, Khayelitsha say their community is overrun with rats the size of cats and that they fear for the health of their children.
And they believe the rats are coming from a neglected field in the area which has become a dumping site.
They said that the rats, active mostly at night, eat their groceries and walk freely in their homes.
Ivy Siminini, 62, who lives next to the field, has been living in the area for nearly 30 years. She said the rat infestation started about five years ago and feels that the poison she has been buying to kill the rodents has been a wasteful expenditure.
Over the years, she said, residents had been told that a community hall would be built on the land, and later they were told it would be used as a playground.
However, all of these promises proved to be empty ones.
Ms Siminini said she wanted the authorities to do something about the vacant land and the vermin it attracted before the situation became worse.
“This field is a rat’s playground. But the sad thing is that our children play at the very same field. We were also promised that the piece of land would be used for a community playground for children but that has never happened,” she said.
“I can’t sleep peacefully at night because I fear that they might bite us. If I forgot to lock my cupboards when I wake up in the morning the next day my groceries would be finished or bitten by rats,” she said.
South African National Civics Organisation disciplinary community member at Ekhumpleni, Violet Majola, said they wanted to see their ward councillor and all spheres of government resolving this matter.
Ms Majola said community leaders were aware of the situation but had turned a blind eye.
Ward councillor, Patrick Mngxunyeni, said because the land was not zoned for the construction of a hall, the City had decided to put forward plans for a playground.
However, he said, all this had taken place before he took office.
Mr Mngxunyeni said the City was responsible for the delay in developing the land, and added that rats were being attracted to it because residents were dumping rubbish there.