Township residents show government their bucket toilets

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Gugulethu township residents yesterday showed their bucket toilets to the national social development department in a bid to get help.

The department’s deputy minister Bongi Ntuli was in Cape Town to follow up on meetings President Jacob Zuma had with residents in impoverished parts of Cape Town’s on June 21.

Residents showed Ntuli their poor living conditions and told her about their economic battles. The face-to-face with the Ntuli was aimed at getting the national government to step into the ongoing poo protests in Cape Town.

Department of social development deputy minister Bongi Ntuli (in black) listens to Gugulethu township residents talk about their struggles. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Department of social development deputy minister Bongi Ntuli (in black) listens to Gugulethu township residents talk about their struggles. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Ntuli inspected the bucket toilets in Gugulethu’s Gxa Gxa Square and talked to residents in a community hall. She had earlier met Manenberg residents too.

Thembisa Magqaza from Gxa Gxa Square told the minister “our people are suffering”.

This was one of the main sites that led to poo protests when the local government in Cape Town did not clean the toilets regularly in recent months.

Bucket toilet in Gugulethu. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Bucket toilet in Gugulethu. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Magqaza said: “We don’t have toilets, houses and some people don’t have food. We are happy that you saw our toilets. We are still using buckets. We want your help. We have not yet seen change.”

Nombeko Leputhing showed Ntuli six bucket toilets “that 580 families use” in Gxa Gxa Square.

“There are families who have been living like this for 28 years. We wanted to show the minister this because the national government gives the provincial and local government money to deliver services,” said Leputhing.

“We want the minister to tell the Western Cape government to do its job. It must sort out the toilets in townships.”

Ntuli told locals that an inter-ministerial task team was needed to come up with a plan to help solve their problems. She said she would send in “foot soldiers to sit with you and write down everything”.

“We need to bring in the housing minister. We have a new housing minister from Cape Town who understands these issues better. We also want to bring in the minister of economic development,” said Ntuli.

She added: “We also need a strategy on how we can develop our young people. Food parcels will not be sustainable forever.”

Ntuli said her department would hold “community dialogues” in Cape Town’s poor areas in August to assess their social and living conditions.

Ntuli also used yesterday’s meetings to campaign for the ANC. The party intends to win back the Western Cape from the province’s ruling DA government in next year’s general election.

“The only remedy we have is to bring back the ruling party in this area. Without that we are not going to get anywhere. We won’t be able to do anything,” she said.

After that, she turned to God: “My Bible says to me the God that we serve will never leave us or forsake us. God knows our problems. We just need to believe and be strong.”

Zuma is meanwhile expected to make a return visit to Cape Town on July 26. His main focus would be Mitchell’s Plain, an area with a major drug and gang problem. It is also home to mostly coloured voters, largely sympathetic to the Democratic Alliance.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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