Health warning – Cape Town warned to clean up their act and the filthy canals in an informal settlement

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A series of shocking details of filthy canals overflowing with effluent and waste were sent to health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo who in turn alerted the Western Cape’s directorate for environmental law enforcement.

The city has been given 14 days to report back on the progress they have made.

In the directive by Eshaam Palmer‚ director for Environmental law enforcement‚ to city manager‚ Achmat Ebrahim‚ the city is accused of failing to provide adequate ablution‚ washing and storm water management facilities in the township.

Palmer‚ also accused the city of failing to provide adequate solid waste management practices “resulting in significant danger to the health and well-being of the inhabitants of Masiphumelele township”.

Failure to comply with the directive could lead to legal action and jail time or a fine of up to R10-million.

Palmer directed the city to do a “thorough and effective clean-up” of storm-water canals and to remove stockpiles of solid waste from demarcated areas.

The city also has to “continue with regular maintenance of all toilets‚ washing facilities‚ standpipes‚ canals and other storm-water and wastewater infrastructure and respond promptly and effectively to reported problems”.

It was community activist Rose Milbank WHO wrote to Mbombo.

She told of how shacks in the area are situated alongside the filthy canals.

“As I explained to you‚ because of the lack of toilet facilities where shacks are situated‚ the communities use buckets in their homes‚ especially at night‚ and then this gets thrown into the canals.

“They also do their laundry using taps situated along the canals and the dirty water is then thrown into the canals.

“During the two years I have involved myself in Masi‚ these canals have never been cleaned. The stench and flies are unbearable – how anybody survives there is beyond my understanding.

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One of the filthy Masiphumelele canals overflowing with effluent and waste. Photo: Rose Milbank

“There is also a new canal at the back of Makaya Ngoku shack land which is causing major concern. Please‚ please could you have the water tested for us as soon as possible? As we know the health authorities are on standby in case of cholera and typhoid outbreaks – I am terrified of this happening in Masi because of a lack of action on our part‚” she said in an email to the MEC.

She also highlighted that because water levels are so low people walk through the sludge and children play there.

“The situation is horrific. If I had my way‚ the entire population in this area would be evacuated to the vacant land owned by the City which is part of the Greater Masiphumelele Development Plan which The City refuses to release.”

Xanthea Limberg‚ the mayoral committee member for informal settlements‚ said on Thursday night: “The City of Cape Town is considering whether to appeal the directive for a number of reasons.

“Among these is the fact that it was issued without taking due cognisance of the fact that there is an inter-governmental task team which is working on making substantial enhancements to waste and sanitation management in the area.”

– TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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