Wallacedene residents are growing increasingly angry about sewage spills and blocked drains in the area.
Some have threatened to take to the streets to protest over poor living conditions and what they feel is an unwillingness on the part of the authorities to act.
Sewage spills and illegal dumping are an almost daily reality in Wallacedene, but councillors say residents are themselves to blame (“Residents blamed for sewage spills,” Northern News, May 8.)
The residents have shot back, saying councillors are either “no shows” when asked for help or offer only temporary fixes or none at all.
In Swellini Street, with its mix of municipal houses and shacks, the road is flooded with sewage and there is an open drain outside an unregistered creche and play park.
Creche owner Cingantwa Nkwali stops the children playing in the front yard in case one runs out and slips into the drain.
“I have to take extra care of my children because I don’t want them to be sick. Fortunately, none of them are sick now but this could become worse especially with the winter rains,” she said.
The Swellini Park was also out of bounds, she said.
“Children are not always aware of what’s happening; they just want to play. So they will innocently run to the park and slip in. This is dangerous,” she said, holding her head.
Residents are unhappy that there’s no fence around the park, which opens onto busy Botfontein Road. They say it’s too easy for a child to be snatched from the park or to run into the road and get hit by a car.
Ntomboxolo Matya, of Mayonga Street, said her 12-year-old son had a severe skin rash, which she blames on poor water quality.
“The skin rash is only bad when we come into contact with that water. Our legs are full of small sores, and it bleeds and itches,” she said.
Ever second street in Wallacedene had sewage spills and stagnant water, she said.
Community activist Anele Wondo said Wallacedene’s drains had already been blocked in 2009 when she moved there.
Municipal sanitation staff had done some work on the drain at the start of the year, but the problems had returned with the rains, and Monday May 20 had been particularly bad, she said.
“Even when we contacted the councillor, he comes to have a look but stands from afar. Still there has never been a solution, and we want solutions,” she said.
“The saddest part of all of this is that our community has given up all hope and has stopped reporting these service delivery issues. However, my question is, what about our future generations? They will grow up thinking that this is the right way to live.”
She suggested councillors and City water and sanitation departments meet with the community to propose solutions and ways to curb dumping.
Ward 6 councillor Simpiwe Nonkeyzana did not respond to questions sent on Wednesday May 22 before this edition went to print.
Mayoral committee member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said staff had dealt with a sewage spill near the park on Tuesday May 7, using disinfectant and bio-enzymes to reduce health risks and odour.
She encouraged residents to report open drains as the covers were usually stolen for scrap or vandalised.
“The City acts on such service requests as soon as the matter is reported and logged onto our system. Residents are urged to report any damaged infrastructure to the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089, or by sending an SMS with the location of the problem, as well as a short description to 31373 (maximum 160 characters).Thereafter, a team will be dispatched to assess and rectify the problem.”
Mayco member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said nearly R60 000 of ward funding had been used to establish the park in 2011. It had had a fence and palisade gate, but the fence had been stolen in 2017 and the gate had been repeatedly vandalised.
“It’s costly and unsustainable for the recreation and parks department to continue to install a fence, in an area where vandalism takes place continuously. The park is cleaned monthly, but cleanliness cannot be maintained without the support and cooperation of the local community.”