‘We are living in human waste’

Zanele Lusithi, of Joe Slovo, says a sewerage pipe on her property overflows when neighbours flush their toilets.

Two women, one from Joe Slovo and the other from Dunoon, have had their homes swamped several times by raw sewage.

Zanele Lusithi, of Hlungulu Crescent, Joe Slovo, says that for three weeks a sewer drain right on her stoep has been overflowing whenever neighbours flush their toilets.

“It comes out on the main that is at my doorstep. I’ve reported this to the councillors in the area, but, as always, the City responds by saying it is busy with the problem but nothing ever gets done.”

Four other homes in the street had the same problem, she said.

Olwethu Filani, of Dunoon says, sewage swamps her home every time neighbourhood drains get blocked.

Olwethu Filani, of Dunoon, said her issue with blocked drains and overflowing sewage had started in 2018. When the drains in her street get blocked, for whatever reason, dirty water and sewage come out of her toilet.

“This is embarrassing and I have had enough,” she said. “Since 2018, this issue has been around, but we have always been sticking it out hoping things would get better, but it just doesn’t.

“When we had the big storms a few weeks ago, it really got bad. The dirty water was ankle deep, and our furniture and other appliances like our TVs were damaged.”

There are 10 family members in the home, and Ms Filani fears for their health, especially the four children and two grandmothers, the oldest of whom is 96

“A neighbour of ours works at the municipality, so sometimes when he sees the situation getting worse, he makes calls and people come out to clean. But the issue just carries on. We often have to clean these drains ourselves and also clean the mess that is left in our homes. We could get sick because of this,” she said.

Dunoon resident Themba Vela said sewer problems were rife in the area and people were falling ill as a result.

“People are getting sick here in Dunoon, and the City doesn’t seem to care. We are living in human waste, and they think that it’s okay for people they should be taking care of to live this way. There have been many incidents like this in this area, and we have asked on all those occasions that we need permanent solutions. What is happening with residents in Dunoon and Joe Slovo having sewage flowing into their homes is shameful,” he said.

Human faeces lies around Olwethu Filani’s home after sewage swamped her home for several days.

Ian Neilson, mayoral committee member for finance, said it was important for those seeking compensation from the municipality to provide supporting information, such as invoices and photographs of the affected area and the damaged caused.

“Each claim is assessed on its own merit, which includes assessment of whether there has been any negligence or omission on the City’s side. Once the City has received the resident’s claim form or formal correspondence, a reference number will be provided for all future liaison,” he said.

The claim forms are available on the City’s website at www.capetown.gov.za

Xanthia Limberg, mayoral committee member for water and waste, said sewage spills were more likely in Joe Slovo and Dunoon when it rained because residents had connected rain gutters to the sewers illegally. That caused the sewers – already straining from illegal dumping – to flood.

“The situation is further complicated by land invasions and construction which takes place without relevant planning approvals. This has blocked the City’s access for maintenance (clearing blockages) in some areas and worsens the severity of overflows. Teams from water and sanitation are in the areas on a very regular basis, working to keep sewage flowing. However, given structural and behavioural challenges in the area, it is an uphill battle, especially during rainfall.”