“The smell will kill you here.”
So says a Gugulethu grandmother who feels like she is living on a ticking health time bomb.
Outside the home of Nontobeko Nomnganga, 65, in Sagwityi Walk, in New Rest, sewage regularly overflows from the nearby manhole. This has been happening for as long as she can remember, and she doesn’t recall the problem ever having been attended to.
Her house has been wrecked by the flood of sewage and she has appealed to the City of Cape Town for help before she simply abandons her house.
Local councillor Bongani Ngcombolo said he was aware of the problem and had visited the elderly woman. And, he said, the City was also aware of it because he had reported the matter.
When Vukani visited Ms Nomnganga’s home, she was trying to mop out the raw faeces.
Crying, she said, her house had been flooded with raw sewage several times. “I bet you cannot stay a minute inside my house. You cannot eat here because it stinks.
“With the help of concerned residents, I have tried to report this on many occasions but no help. The smell will kill you here,” she said with tears flowing down her cheeks
Outside, the sewage gushes out of the drains. Some of it flows into her house, the rest forms pools around the house.
“We are not talking about something that has just happened. This is a challenge that I have faced for years now. I hardly sleep in peace. I have my granddaughter whom I live with. She is only nine years old and will grow up in this situation. I need the City to remove this or stop it before it kills me and my family. I cannot have a nice meal and a good cup of tea because the smell has taken over,” she said.
A neighbour who asked not to be named said they have also been affected by the sewage.
She said their children were in danger of getting sick. Ms Nomnganga’s house, she said, “is forever wet”.
“One day it will collapse. Honestly, as much as we are affected, she is in hell. The woman is 65 but has never had a peace of mind in her house,” she said.
Mr Ngcombolo said while he had visited Ms Nomnganga and had reported her plight, he was not sure when the situation would be fixed. “At some point we visited her. It is bad and the City is aware. I am sure there are arrangements made to fix it but I am not sure when,” he told Vukani.