May 7, 2011
ANC-run local municipality has left loos open since 2003
OUT IN THE OPEN: A toilet installed in 2004 and left unenclosed in Rammulotsi, outside Viljoenskroon in the Free State
For months, the ANC kicked up a stink over open toilets in the Western Cape - now it appears the ruling party has its own share of shame in this department.
It has emerged that 1600 toilets, some built as far back as 2003, in parts of the ANC-run Moqhaka local municipality in the Free State have been left uncovered for years.
Some of the toilets in Rammulotsi, outside Viljoenskroon, are in a state of disrepair. Many have cracked, while pipes have also vanished.
This situation mirrors the widely publicised toilet saga in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, in the DA-run city of Cape Town.
On Friday, several toilets in Metampelo section, built in 2004, still stood unenclosed. Many had makeshift covers ranging from rusty corrugated iron sheets to pieces of plastic sheets.
Resident Nomsa Kantweni said she had never used the toilet outside her home. Since it was built in 2004, it stands like an ornament next to the enclosed pit toilet the family use.
"We have small children. These pit toilets are just not safe to use at all," said Kantweni. "This is not right. We really don't deserve to live like this."
She said she and two of her immediate neighbours could not afford to enclose their toilets and always assumed that the council would at some stage complete the project.
Moqhaka municipality's executive mayor, Mantebu Mokgosi, refused to comment and referred questions to acting technical services manager Mike Lelaka.
Lelaka said the council took a resolution late last year to provide cover for all toilets left unenclosed since 2003.
"Our audit indicated that there were 1620 toilets which were left unattended to, the so-called open toilets."
Lelaka said the council had since covered 378 toilets, while another phase of the project would result in a further 200 being covered shortly.
He said while it would cost the council more than R8-million, it had only R4.2-million available at present.
R 8-million to enclose toilets???
"Everything is dependent on funding, but we have approached the departments of water affairs and human settlements. We are still awaiting a response from them."
In another part of Metampelo section, opposite Mokgosi's house, cement was still drying on the newly built walls around two toilets on Friday.
Lelaka said those had been recently done as part of the council's second phase in the project.
Resident Maria Mafabatho has tried to cover her toilet using rusted metal sheets as a basic "wall" and a corrugated-iron sheet as a roof.
She said she still needed bricks and rocks to secure the "roof" in bad weather, because she feared it could tumble over at any time.
"I tried my best to cover my toilet because I realised that nobody was coming back to complete it," she said.
Lelaka claims that there was an agreement with residents that the municipality would provide only sanitation and residents would put up the enclosures.
The Sunday Times has established that a complaint has been laid with the Human Rights Commission over this matter.
The commission's spokesman, Vincent Moaga, said: "At this stage, the commission is still investigating the matter."
ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the party was "not aware" of the existence of open toilets in Rammulotsi.
"Do you want to tell me that it's the same situation like the one caused by the DA in Makhaza?" he asked. "Whatever the circumstance, it's unacceptable. We will investigate, and whoever is responsible will have to answer. We cannot allow our people to be disrespected like that.
It's even worse if that's being done by an ANC municipality."
The High Court in Cape Town last week ordered the city of Cape Town to enclose all open toilets at Makhaza in Khayelitsha, after the ANC Youth League sued on behalf of the 1300 residents who were saddled with the toilets.
The city was accused of undermining the residents' basic right to dignity by not enclosing the toilets.