Less than 3km from Caledon lies an informal settlement called Riemvasmaak informal which has more than 170 households with just two toilets.
As shocking as this may be, residents of the Riemvasmaak informal happen to be one of the communities in South Africa who have to make do with daring situations like this.
The Riemvasmaak informal is said to have seven toilets but just two are fit for use and the residents of the settlements related their grievances saying Theewaterskloof Municipality has neglected them for years and failed to address their grievances.
Narrating how they cope with the daring situation, the residents say while some members of the community are continuing to use the blocked toilets, others are relieving themselves in a nearby bush.
“This is not a way people should live. The municipality has stopped servicing them and now we have to live like pigs.
“How can we avoid contracting disease when we live like this,” 55 year-old Mother-of-four Nosakele Robeni stated.
August 3 Municipality election is around the corner and the community seems not to be hopeful for a change from their predicament.
Robeni said none of the municipality’s promises for better sanitation had been kept. Instead, the dignity of the residents had been impaired as they had no privacy when using the toilets.
“I arrived here about five years ago and nothing much has changed. In fact, things have continued to get worse. We have run out of hope.
“If I had not fixed that dumped toilet, we would not have a toilet today. No one cares about us,” she said.
The commander-in-chief of the Economic Freedom fighters Julius Malema once told his party supporters during one of the party’s campaign in Mpumalanga, that they would never be free without flushing toilets and land ownership.
Though this could be referred to as political manipulations, the fact still remains that a large number of our communities suffer severe health hazards caused by poor health standards.
Though the municipality blamed vandalism, especially the depositing of other objects into the bowls, for the poor state of the toilets, resident Isaac Merani said the toilets had not been vandalized, they were simply not working.
Even though the doors and water pipes of toilets were broken, some of the community leaders said residents continued using them in that state because they had no choice.
However, Theewaterskloof Municipality spokesperson Hugo Geldenhuys balmed the poor toilet state on “high influx of people in all the informal settlements”.
“It was initially anticipated that the piece of land would house a maximum of 80 households. A sewerage system for flush toilets was built and there are seven toilets in Block D to serve Blocks D and F.
“Based on 80 households, there would have been one toilet for every eleven to twelve households. Eventually, 177 families moved to the land, which resulted in seven toilets for 177 households.”
He said of these households, 32 families were on the verge of being moved to new low-cost RDP houses.
The truth remains, we all have the power to vote-in or out, any candidate or party who fails to meet up with its promises of ensuring an improved standard of living for all. August 3 elections is just one of these times and we must do this peacefully.