‘There are waste dumps everywhere, and people get sick more often. And when it rains the houses and the streets are filled with water, and the children play in this dirty muddy water,’ said one of the residents Dimpho Mokoena, who lives there with her boyfriend and four children.
‘The crime rate is also very high, especially at night because there no street lights and people who come home from work are targeted and robbed, and sometimes even killed,’ said Mokoena. ‘We live in fear.’
The poor sanitation and lack of infrastructure causes many health issues in the community.
Like Mokoena, who is from Lesotho, many of the Shiya Bazali residents come from neighboring countries. But unlike her, many of them don’t speak isiZulu or English. This becomes a real issue when they go to the clinic but are unable to communicate with the health-care workers. Nurses at the local clinic has complained that they are often unable to inform patients if they were diagnosed with HIV or TB, or to discuss their treatment, because of the language barrier.
The township was originally formed in 1984 during a strike at a rubber plant. Workers from outside the area were brought in to replace the strikers and formed Shiya Bazali, which means ‘leaving our parents behind’ in Zulu as it was not safe for them to live in the township alongside striking workers.
* Lungile Ngubane is the OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Mgungundlovu district in KwaZulu-Natal.