The struggle against sewage spills continues

Sarah Seitshiro, the HIV positive mother of a 10-year-old daughter is overwhelmed by challenges of flooding in the house and the stench of the sewer. Photo: Selogile Leshage

The J.B. Marks municipality is facing the Herculean problem of sewage spillage in Ext. 11 and the surrounding areas with no major breakthrough in sight.

Countless complaints of the severity of the sewage spillage remain unheeded as the bitter stench and flowing excrement in yards and streets continue.

The war on sewage was exacerbated when it was discovered that the previous contractor had performed shoddy work by using thin pipes for underwater sewage, resulting in the overload of the system.
This disaster has caught the eye of the Human Rights Commission and the Public Protector after the intervention of the DA caucus chairperson, Hans-Jurie Moolman.
According to him, the DA finds this unacceptable. ‘It is inhumane to allow residents of our town to live in conditions where they have to breathe and live with raw sewage in and around the house.
‘It is extremely disturbing that the municipality has been aware of this problem for more than a year and yet no steps have been taken to provide relief for the affected communities,’ he said.

A young girl crosses the sewage spillage on her way home.
Photo: Selogile Leshage

The insects are our daily bread
One prime example is the home of Peter Mosounyana and his neighbours, where the sewage flows into their yards. Mosounyana says this is a serious health hazard and he suspects that his family’s poor health may be the result of the smell and the unidentified flying insects in the house. ‘The insects are our daily bread. We have migraines and are always nauseous,’ he says.
‘My family and I have been living in these conditions for two years and my pleas, and those of fifty other households in the area have fallen on deaf ears. We are now asking the national government to assist us. This is a serious human rights violation,’ he continues.
The Mosunyana family no longer receives church visitors because of the revolting smell. His wife, Meokgo says cooking under these circumstances is unbearable. ‘I am in this house because of my marriage obligations towards my husband. If I was not married, I would have packed my clothes and moved back home a long time ago,’ she says.
The Tobolo family is another family in distress. Thabiso says they had the worst Christmas of their lives because of the spillage in their yards.
New contractor confident about completing sewer project
On Tuesday, the Herald visited the site of the Born Free Civils construction company that has been tasked with ensuring that the sewage problems in the townships are solved.
Pointing to a mountain of pipes on site, Eksteen Uys, the project manager, says they have enough material to complete the job. But, he continues, there seem to be problems delaying their progress. ‘There are people who block the manholes by throwing huge rocks, debris, blankets, half-mattresses, diapers, school bags and huge amounts of paper into the system. This is not helpful and we are not going to win the war on this sewage. The community must be made aware that they are making the situation worse.’
Anton Muller, the contractor of Born Free expects the project to have been completed in three weeks, depending on the weather. ‘There has been torrential rain that has taken us steps backwards in completing the project,’ he said.

Eksteen Uys (right), the project manager, shows members of the media all the debris in the manhole. Insert: The kilogrammes of solid matter at the bottom of the manhole are a major cause of the problem.
Photos: Selogile Leshage

I cannot give my daughter the love and warmth of a mother

During the site visit, a group of community members living near the sewer trenches stormed in and raised their issues with the sewage and storm water in the area.

Sarah Seitshiro (49), an HIV positive woman stood on site and cried in despair over the challenges. Besides the smell of the sewage, she says there are other problems in the area. ‘When it rains, our shacks are flooded and I have to use 5-litre containers to raise my bed to avoid it getting soaked and damaged. I cannot even clean my home because of the flooding and I have had to take my 10-year-old daughter to my relatives because of this problem. I cannot give her the love and warmth of a mother to her child,’ she said.
 JB Marks Local Municipality explains the causes of sewage spillage in Ext.11
Selogile Leshage

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