For years, residents of Ekwarini have lived in damp squalor, and the Buffalo City administration has done nothing about it
Nolathile Desi lives in Ekwarini in Duncan Village, East London. She says water and sewage has been leaking into her home for the past three years. The problem started when a pipe burst close by. The leaking hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her pregnant daughter and two other children in a two-room shack and she says they are constantly getting sick.
“The water comes in the shack and I have to move my furniture to other rooms because the floor is wet. We even have to open the windows at nights as the smell of the sewage is unbearable. This is a huge problem in this area and though we have reported it to the councilor and have called her to see the problem, it has not been resolved,” she says.
Other residents in the area have the same problem. Meshack Vundle, who is 73 and moved to the area in 1993, says even when it has not rained, the floor of his house is always wet. “It is always cold,” he says. Because the floor of his bedroom is always wet, he sleeps in the kitchen.
Miranda Xhelo says it becomes worse when it rains. She says it is hard to walk to other residents’ homes as the water floods the road. “I had to put a zinc outside my door to keep the water from getting into the room as it had already flooded the others. Our furniture is ruined and we cannot move because these are our homes,” says Xhelo.
Because the road is flooded, it is difficult for vehicles to enter part of the neighbourhood. Bongani Ndzotho says, “We have this problem because the municipality does not clean the water drains.”
Councillor Ayanda Mapisa says, “I raised the issue at a meeting with the municipality and they said it will be fixed. This problem has been going on for years. I am also frustrated, but there is nothing much I can [do] but to take the municipality’s word and wait for it to take action.”
Andisiwe Gwadi says she had to dig up a water path on the ground to keep the water and sewage from coming in to her home. “We need an immediate resolution. We cannot live like this anymore. If the councillor says the municipality is aware of the problem, why are we still living with damp floors and [why do] our homes smell like human waste?” she asks.
Buffalo Municipality Acting Communication Spokesperson Sibusiso Cindi told GroundUp the problem was not brought to his attention. He insisted qustions be emailed. After trying to get someone in the municipality to respond, he told GroundUp, “Publish without the Municipality’s comment.”