Site C’s inhumane living conditions

Ayanda Sokuyeka shows Vukani the blocked drain,

The disgusting stench of overflowing sewage hits you immediately as you step in to Nyandeni Crescent in Site C, Khayelitsha.

The smell is unpleasant enough if you are just a visitor to the area, but for residents it is a sickening reality which they have to endure every day.

While one drain overflows with human excrement, another one nearby is already covered up with sewage.

The residents say the drain has been blocked for years and that they have reported the matter countless times to their ward councillor, but their pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears.

They told Vukani that as soon they step outside their homes, they battle to breathe due to the nauseating stench. The overflowing sewage has also caused skin rashes, they say, and children are not able to play outside.

Resident Sivuyile Caka said the drain is situated just next to his three-roomed shack and it has made his life a living hell.

Mr Caka said his body was covered in a rash after attempts to clean the drain.

He said he now fears that should he attempt to clean the drain again, he might be infected by other dangerous and incurable diseases.

He said he was frustrated and angry that nothing seems to be done to solve the issue of the drain.

He described their living conditions as inhumane and said no one should have to live in an environment where their health was at risk.

He said whenever he was at home, he kept his windows and doors closed because of the smell coming from the drain.

Mr Caka believes that infrastructure carrying the sewage needs to be changed. He said if he had the means, he would have bought a house somewhere else and move from Site C. “I fear for my health. It is sad that we have to live like this while other people live in healthy environments. We feel neglected and no one seems to care to fix the drain. Our ward councillor has failed us and does not care,” he said.

Another angry resident, Ayanda Sokuyeka said he has been living in the area for a decade but the last few years have been horrible because of the blocked drain.

While Mr Sokuyeka talks to Vukani, the sewage continues to bubble onto the tarred road. He pointed out that parents now need to constantly keep their eye on their children so that they don’t play with the water.

The 44-year-old father of two said he has banned his children from coming into the street as he fears that they might be infected with diseases. He said he no longer sees the point of voting if the people who they have voted for do not care about their complaints and problems. “We sometimes clean the sewage ourselves. What are we suppose to do so that our pleas can be heard. We can’t live like this,” he said.

Mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg, said a team had been deployed to the area and reported that a stormwater drain had become blocked.“Please note that this is not a sewer pipe,” she said.

Ms Limberg said many private and illegal waste pipes were connected from homes and businesses such as salons, and the waste water from these premises drains into the main road and ends up in the stormwater system.

She said this is what has caused the blocked drain. “We remind residents that discharge of grey/sewer/blackwater into the stormwater system is illegal. We ask that residents do not place inappropriate items into any drains as it causes blockages,” she said.

Ward councillor Mabhuti Vellem said he was aware of the drain and he had reported the matter to the authorities countless times.

Mr Vellem said the issue was that the sewerage system had reached the end of its lifespan and needed to be changed. He said all of Site C had the problem of blocked drains.

He pleaded with the City of Cape Town to fix the drains and stop turning a blind eye on issues facing township residents.