For many Monwabisi Park residents in Khayelitsha going to the communal toilet is a mission because they have been built high up, with no steps to access them.
So, people have to take with them a step ladder or crate on which to stand – and a bucket of water to flush away their excrement because the toilets do not flush.
Some residents have opted for the porta-pota system or the bushes instead of using their communal toilets and residents feel like they have been stripped of their human rights and dignity.
They told Vukani the toilets were erected back in 1997, and that they had complained to their councillors about them. Ward councillor Anele Gabuza conceded that the situation was bad.
Resident Masixole Genuka said residents of the area faced many problems. He said when the toilets were built they were happy – until they realised they would not be able to access them.
“We did not see this coming. We were tired of going to the forest and we were delighted to see toilets in our area.
“But now it is difficult to access the toilet when you need it. Don’t even mention the seniors and disabled people,” he said.
He said the lack of proper toilets also negatively impacted the environment as they contributed to the spread of many diseases.
“ I stay right next to them. The stench from there (is unbearable) because they do not flush. Children come here most times. Remember we have no infrastructure for even these children. All of us that are right next to the toilets, we are in hell,” he said.
Another resident, Sakhele Jim, said the situation was even worse on hot days. “Whoever built them had a poor thinking. You can measure this now, this is 1.5m high. How does one go up there with a 20 litre bucket of water? What is left of them is now a playground for children.
“There are few people that still use them. Seniors have opted for the porta-portas and those who do not have them, the bush is theirs. Most people run to the bushes.”
Mr Gabuza said people were being deprived of their dignity and that he was taking up the matter with the City.
“This would have never happened in an area like Constantia. This is undermining black people by the City. But there is a project in the pipeline to correct the situation,” he said.