Residents flee the stench of RDPs for their old mkhukhus

Mkhuseli Sizani

Residents of Simangweni Street in Joe Slovo Township, Port Elizabeth are abandoning their RDP houses. 

Tormented by the stench and mosquitoes, 13 families have decided to abandon their RDP homes that are crumbling because of continuous flooding from sewage. 

The problem has been so bad that in 2019 a boy drowned in a sewage dam caused by the blocked drains behind the houses.

Luthando Jabavu told Scrolla.Africa: “Our shacks were better than these RDP houses. They were built in 2008 but immediately after we occupied them sewage became our nightmare. Every month my toilet gets blocked and poo comes back and floods my house.” 

He said he had to leave his house and erect a shack because the walls at the bottom were crumbling. 

“I have been wearing a mask way before there was a coronavirus outbreak because of the smell,” he said.

“This has even affected my health because I cough all the time. At night I can’t sleep because of the mosquitoes.” 

The residents have lost hope and the municipality has no immediate solutions. 

Another resident, Enderson Mbinda, said: “Is this a better life we were promised? We never lived like this in our shacks even though we were using the inhumane bucket system. A child drowned in this sewage that comes from our houses. We break drains with picks because the municipality is no longer maintaining them.” 

Simphiwe Tyukana, ANC Ward 41 councillor, said: “Poor workmanship is the main cause of this problem.”

“The aim was to ask Human Settlements to rebuild those houses and change the sewage system. But there are no funds for that.”

He added that temporary shelters erected in 2015 for affected families were stolen.