OurHealth Water & Sanitation

Move the sewage or move us, says family

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

The East Rand Nkuna family alleges that the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality installed a sewer on their doorstep.

The Nkunas aren't the only ones complaining.  Residents claim sewage spills like this have been plaguing Jouberton's Extension 6 for two decades.

The Nkunas aren’t the only ones complaining. Residents claim sewage spills like this have been plaguing Jouberton’s Extension 6 for two decades.

Petros Nkuna and his family live in Tsakane outside of Johannesnurg. According to Petros’ wife, Rose Mathusi, the family has complained about the foul smells at the doorstep of their shack for more than a year but say they have not received a response.

Mathusi complains that blocked pipes often force raw sewage to come up through the manhole.

Mathusi sells cakes and snacks to supplement the single child grant that sustains the family. She says the smell from the sewer is so bad that she is forced to sell her wares from a neighbour’s house in order to attract customers.

“We have been living with this horrid smell of the bursting sewage (manhole) for a long time, but when we report it the municipality doesn’t come to see what is wrong,” said Mathusi, adding that the smell of sewage in the house can be overwhelming.

Petros’s eldest son, Simon, told OurHealth that he worries about not only his younger siblings playing in the putrid water but that his father, who is blind, will walk through it.

“I always look after my father very closely, as he cannot see, so that he don’t fall to the sewage whenever he wants to go outside,” Simon said. “I also keep a close eye to my five siblings so they do not to play next to the sewage as they can get sick.”

“The municipality must remove this sewage or find us another place (to live),” he added.

According to Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality Spokesperson Themba Gadebe, there is no sewer in the Nkuna’s yard.

“There is no sewer, it is just manhole that you normally find in any other property,” said Gadebe, who added that most plots have similar manholes located at the back of properties.

“The customers illegally invaded land (and) the formalisation of the area happened after the occuption,” he told OurHealth.”Unfortunately, when the sewer network was installed, it was placed in front of their properties and they refused to relocate to the correct space.”

Gadebe denied any wrongdoing on the part of the muncicipality

“They were advised by the community liaison officer for the project to move their property forward but they did not comply, “ he added.

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