Poor living conditions in Joe Slovo are making people sick and the municipality is to blame, say residents.
They say the City of Cape Town has long ignored appeals to improve basic services, such as refuse removal, and attend to flooding, burst sewage pipes, illegal dumping and other problems residents say have been aggravated by violent protests and a particularly cold and wet winter.
Resident Thandile Vena says she was diagnosed recently with tuberculosis, and she believes her illness is the result of her living conditions.
“I was never a sick person. I try to take care of myself and my family, but it’s not always easy when you live in a two-room shack that is vulnerable to flooding every now and then.
“It’s not easy when you have to take a taxi to work that is sometimes overloaded. Just going to the shop, you have to jump over faecal matter and must also be careful that a passing car doesn’t splash you. Some of my neighbours have asthma and other sicknesses. It’s rough living here.”
Fearing her children might also pick up TB, Ms Vena has sent them to stay with her mother in Nyanga. But she is unhappy that they now have to travel much further to get to school.
Joe Slovo community leader Mzimkhulu Sopeni said he had been advocating for better services for years but to no avail.
“Our people are sick. There’s a lack of proper services, dumping by the residents themselves and lack of awareness drives to teach people the importance of health and safety. I propose that the councillor conduct some kind of awareness drive for health in general. Our people are dying.”
Ward 4 councillor Wandisile Ngeyi said he planned to meet with the relevant City officials to find solutions to some of Joe Slovo’s problems.
Next month the City would run an awareness drive in Joe Slovo about general hygiene, he said.
“Joe Slovo and Dunoon have been problem areas for years in terms of failing infrastructure, dumping etc,” he said. “Last week, we did a clean up operation at Democracy Park. This week, it’s filled with garbage again. We as the City and residents of Joe Slovo need to come to a consensus whereby on bin days, residents place their rubbish in one agreed upon location, and the City can collect it in one swoop. This might work for all the streets in the area,” he said.
The City and the community needed to work together, he said.
Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste, said the City’s solid waste department serviced Joe Slovo daily, but the level of littering and dumping was such that it wasn’t enough to keep the area clean.
“This is due to the extremely dense population in the area. We encourage all those with backyard tenants to please ensure they apply for extra wheelie bins to contain their refuse if the one bin per property issued by the City is not sufficient. Safety risks for our staff have also been a concern, with a cleansing truck petrol bombed in Joe Slovo Park recently. Dunoon and Joe Slovo are main hot spots for sewer blockages and illegal stormwater connections due to high levels of illegal development in these communities and the extra pressure this places on the City’s pipes.”
Four projects worth more than R57 million would ease the impact of pollution carried in the stormwater system, she said.