Khayelitsha residents launch toilet plan

Community appoints its own cleaner and guard

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Residents of Lindelani Park informal settlement near Khayelitsha station have appointed someone to clean and control access to their communal toilets, with the approval of the municipality.

The residents of the settlement near Nonqubela Link said they introduced the initiative to combat dirt in their toilets and to prevent them from blocking. There are about 300 families in the settlement.

Community-appointed cleaner Mhlanganisi Nohule, 39, said he opened and cleaned the communal flush toilets at 8am and sold toilet paper to residents before knocking off at 5pm.

Residents are charged R1 for a piece of toilet paper. Hawkers and shack-dwellers who do not have money for toilet paper use public toilets outside the train station.

When Mgebe Gcwayi, 60, came to the toilet with a crumpled newspaper in his hand, Nohule turned him away and ordered him to buy toilet paper.

Newspapers blocked the toilets, he said.

“I support the initiative, but it makes it difficult for us to use the toilets when we don’t have money to buy toilet paper,” said Gcwayi.

Shoppers from nearby Nonqubela Link and informal traders have to pay R1 for use of toilets and another R1 for toilet paper, said Nohule. He said he used the money to buy toilet paper and cleaning materials. He buys food with whatever is left. He did not get a fixed salary.

Motorists and taxi drivers who use the communal taps to wash their cars had to pay R20.

Aleta Kampteni, 40, who sells cooked food to taxi drivers and shoppers nearby, said she didn’t support the community initiative.

“I must get water to clean food and meat that I sell to my customers, so I end up spending all my profit on water,” she said.

Kampteni added angrily: “I voted so that I could get free water, but now I’m forced to buy it.”

Restaurant operator Namhla Tshambu complained about being charged for water and the use of the communal toilets. Photo: Vincent Tlali

Namhla Tshambu, 22, who operates her mother’s shack restaurant, said the informal settlement residents did not pay for water or toilets and should not charge anyone.

She said the City of Cape Town should intervene.

But Mncedisi Dingindawo, 43, said the community effort had changed the lives of the shackdwellers.

“Now we have someone guarding the toilets and they don’t get blocked or dirty.”

“Hawkers used to wash cow and sheep intestines here and leave the drains clogged with smelly fat which blocked all the toilets. Not anymore!”

Community leader Lennox Ntanga, 52, said residents had made a decision last month to sell water and to force people to use toilet paper to keep the toilets clean.

“The city has neglected our toilets for many years, so we decided to deal with dirty toilets ourselves,” he said.

He said when the contracts of the janitors contracted to the City expired, it took a long time to renew them, and in the meantime people had to use dirty toilets.

City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee member for Utility Services Ernest Sonnenberg, said City officials had visited Lindelani Park and seen the community initiative.

“In general, the City supports this kind of initiative as it displays a community that takes ownership of its infrastructure in a positive way,” he said.

But, he said, it was illegal to sell water. “Residents are not allowed to sell the City’s water,” Sonnenberg said.

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TOPICS:  Government Sanitation

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