Crowded shacks, uncleaned communal toilets and the impossibility to maintain physical distancing are just some of the things that describe the conditions in the Tsunami informal settlement in Samora Machel.
The community, where often large families share a single shack, is frustrated with sewage flooding its area and yards.
Local leaders said they have been pleading with local councillor Sithembiso Mzobe to address foul-smelling effluent, but their pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears.
However, Mr Mzobe says, residents have to take some responsibility as some of them have built on top of the main sewer.
Residents said children had been in and out of hospital with diseases related to the sewage contamination.
Community leader Lubabalo Mlungu said while they were lucky their area had escaped the devastation of the coronavirus, “this has become our lives”.
“Toilets are a mess, the only streets that are next to us are a mess. In fact every year we have this problem. But this one problem we are facing now started in March but it is still like this,” he told Vukani last Monday.
“I am not sure how many times I have contacted our councillor. I have been asking to get us a truck to filter this mess and fix the sewer system. But instead he always asks me to take a picture and send it to him. It is less than five minutes from his office to here but he cannot come,” he said
Another leader, Lungiswa Sirhoqo, said the community had also asked to be relocated to a better area. “The toilets have long been blocked and no one uses them.The people are now using buckets to relieve themselves and they throw it in this water,” she said.
The residents have created makeshift walkways with rocks and planks so they can move about without having to walk through the sewage.
In his defence, said Mr Mzobe, the municipality was trying to help the community, but it was difficult to unblock the drain which is causing the sewage spills because the shacks had been built on top of the main sewer. “It is not true that I never tried to help them. I went to the municipality offices with some of them and we got a truck to help. But the truth was that the area is on top of the main sewer.
“They have built on top of a sewer and I have seen human faeces coming out under their beds. That tells me the problems are bigger than they say.
“But what I am doing now is to try to contact the MEC for Human Settlements and see if he can do something. Other than that, it is difficult to help that problem,” he said.
He also appealed to people to take responsibility for cleaning their own area and toilets. He said they had flushing toilets and he did not understand why people were finding it difficult to keep them clean. “We are in the process of (hiring) a new contractor to clean the toilets. But those are flushing toilets and it should be easy to clean them.
“One toilet is shared by five people. What stops them from making turns to clean it? People need to also take responsibility for their properties” he said.