All dignity lost

One can’t even begin to imagine the embarrassment people feel when they have to tell others about their home being filled with human waste.

Walking in your neighbourhood and knowing that people look at you as the person who owns the home where all the foul odours come from is something none of us would like to experience.

It is astounding that a city that wins global tourism accolades, and which prides itself on clean governance, environmental ingenuity and first-world living standards in its more exclusive suburbs can be the same place where so many of its residents live in conditions reminiscent of medieval times when people emptied their night-soil buckets into the streets. Surely Cape Town can do better than this?

The excuse of illegal land occupation doesn’t count this time. This week, we saw two women and their families, who are living in formal housing, being exposed to serious health hazards. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to diseases you can pick up from exposure to raw sewage.

The problems with Cape Town’s sewers have also been afflicting more affluent areas and many of those residents have threatened to withhold their rates until things improve. Maybe then the City will finally find a way to pull its plumbing out of the Middle Ages.