Environmental Health OurHealth

Family lives side-by-side with raw sewage for years

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

Members of the Chaba family have become prisoners in their own home – trapped by years of raw sewage collecting in their East Rand yard.

The Chaba family is afraid to let their children play in the yard unattended for  fear the kids will come in contact with the raw sewage (file photo)

The Chaba family is afraid to let their children play in the yard unattended for fear the kids will come in contact with the raw sewage (file photo)

According to the family, a large sewer pipe runs through the family’s yard in Buhle Park near Germiston.

Since 2004, the family claims that frequent blockages in the pipe have sent raw sewage flowing into the yard surrounding their brown brick home. Now, mum Lydia Chaba says she wants the pipe moved.

“I have been reporting the matter since 2004,” said mum Lydia Chaba. “Now, it’s 2014 and still my yard is full of waste.”

“I have kids and the youngest is 2 years old,” she told OurHealth. “I always have to watch where they play because the yard is full of waste water.”

The strong stench coming from the pooling water keeps the Chabas’ windows closed. The pooling water has also made it difficult for the couple to run their regular support group in the yard. Although the support group originally catered for people living with HIV, it now includes TB patients as well as people living with cancer.

“We have people living with different diseases who come to our support group for help, but how do we help them in this unhealthy yard?” Chaba asked.

Tikoane said that he has also reported the matter to local Ward Councillor Khosi Maluleke.

“She said it’s on the budget but even now we are still living in this smell,” Tikoane added. “We can’t even open the windows.”

OurHealth went to the Ekurhuleni Customer Care Centre in Germiston to report the issue. Siphiwe Dube, a project managed with the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipal Department of Water and Sanitation promised to attend to the matter no later than 7 October.

According to the Chaba family, the problem remained unsolved as of 10 October.

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98