Bethlehem – In March this year OurHealth reported on the poor water and sanitation in Bethlehem in the Free State that affects the Captain Charles community, better known as the Baipeing community.
On a follow-up visit to the Baipeing community, OurHealth spent the afternoon at the Mashenene household, with Masontaha (23), her son Lebohang Mashenene (1) and her younger brother, Moqenekela (17).
“I have lived at Baipeing for as long as I can remember. Life here is tough. It’s not the kind of life I would wish upon anyone,” said Masontaha.
Among the many challenges faced by the Baipeing community is the lack of water.
“The tap we use is a distance from where I stay. It is next to a dump site, when we are left with no option but to take our children to collect water. We fear they might eat from the dump site,” said Masontaha.
She went on to tell OurHealth about her everyday life “In the morning I must fetch water. During the day, I must fetch water and in the evening. The toilet issue is worse. We are far from the toilets and at night we don’t feel safe walking there so we just use the back of our house.”
Masontaha’s neighbor, Fikile Yika, who has been a Baipeing resident for over ten years now said that the municipality “takes time before clearing the dump sites, at times we have to go on strike for them to take us seriously”.
“Even the toilets we use here are a total disgrace. There is water, urine and faeces everywhere with no privacy at all. This is what pushed my patents to build a pit toilet in our yard.”
OurHealth took a tour around the community together with Yika and Mashenene, and four dump sites were identified. The toilets were dirty with a bad smell, and some walls had fallen leaving the toilets with little privacy
There is no sign that the local municipality has tried to intervene in addressing the challenges faced by the community. The local municipality refused to comment.