The Social Justice Lens
The Social Justice Lens

Shit and social justice

Poststructuralist psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan has argued that humans distinguish themselves from animals in the instant during which shit becomes something shameful. Thus it is the norm in ‘polite society’ that humans defecate in the privacy of a toilet in which their waste can be instantly flushed away. In fact toilet training is the foundation for teaching toddlers acceptable behaviour in society.

Yet, due to lack of sanitation services, over a third of humanity is still subject to open defecation. This system of defecating in the open takes place mainly in Asia and rural sub-Saharan Africa, but urban areas are not immune from similar conditions as lack of services and sanitation in informal settlements means that faeces are often buried in the ground around shacks. The impact this has on the development of those forced to endure these conditions is dire and includes sickness, inability to work, embarrassment and lack of hygiene for menstruating women.

In South Africa over three million households and 18 million people have no access to sanitation. Worldwide there are over 2.6 billion people who are denied sanitation (four in ten people have no access to any latrine, toilet, bucket, or box) and poor sanitation causes one in ten of the world’s illnesses with faecally contaminated water killing a child every 20 seconds.

Though ‘shitting’ has to be one of the most taboo subjects around, it is a matter that we all deal with, on average once or twice a day. Defecation, and the rules governing it, undoubtedly comprises the complete gamut of human behaviour yet open discussion around it is deemed distasteful and disgusting. Indeed this is exactly how it played out when protesters dumped the contents of portable toilets on the steps of the Western Cape legislature in a backlash against the sanitation policy of Helen Zille’s administration. This policy offers communal portable flush toilets to shack dwellers at no cost — a system, which they say, is inadequate and often ends up filthy and untended.

But the shit was also spilled in public and flung at a bus transporting Zille to protest the years of governmental neglect that has resulted in squalor, disease and untenable living conditions in the plentiful informal settlements that (mostly) black South Africans are forced to inhabit. When a crowd of women from Khayelitsha was arrested this week for bringing bags of shit into town to dump on the steps of Parliament, they told journalists that they are angry that they continue to be treated like third-class citizens with third-rate sanitation whilst proper sanitation is being reserved for the largely white middle class.

When shit starts flying in the direction of those in power you can be sure that the lower classes have had enough. In fact throughout history, when the oppressed have brought out their shit as arsenal, rulers have shuddered because it often marked the beginning of a social uprising. In Medieval days dung was flung, along with vulgar language, at Kings and Lords to protest land taxes and other abuses. At Occupy recently, excrement was reportedly used in the protest against the New York Stock Exchange to mark the protestors’ disgust at their fiscal shenanigans. And in 1978 there was the Dirty Protest, which was part of a five-year action during which the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners smeared their bodies and prison cells with their own excrement and refused to wash in protest of the inhumane treatment they received at the hands of prison officials.

When human shit is used in struggle and protest it is usually a last resort. To be sure, when the rules that control and govern defecation are broken (in any culture) it signifies a shift toward revolt against indefensible social conditions.

In South Africa these dire social conditions can be found in informal settlements, Wallacedene in the Western Cape being one of them. In Mooitrap (Tread Carefully), the informal section of the Wallacedene Township, children die from opportunistic infections that they catch when they play outside their homes. Here services consist of an ablution block with two rows of ten toilets and a few concrete basins. This serves about 20 000 people who are crammed into a 2km radius. The toilets have no doors. To get to them you have to trudge through puddles of mud and dirt. People are deprived of basic privacy and the act of shitting becomes a shameful and public affair. The toilets are clogged with faeces and newspaper. Not one works and they fill up with more and more excrement until they are too full to use. But the municipality does nothing to maintain them. The municipality says this is because the services are not being paid for. What they mean by ‘services’ are neglected germ traps and broken taps.

(Mooitrap in 2002 — residents report nothing has changed for them since this was filmed)

People do not choose to live like this. They simply have no choice.

Lydia, has been a resident of Mooitrap for 16 years. She describes how it is impossible for her to use the door-less toilets in the area. “We usually use buckets in our houses and when we are done there is nowhere to empty them other than outside. We dig holes but the children usually end up playing in those mounds of faeces. That is why they are sick. There is absolutely nowhere to throw this stuff.” There is literally nowhere to get rid of human waste in a space in which 20 000 people have to shit at least twice a day. In a 2km radius that is a lot of human defecation — tonnes of it. The burden of getting rid of this is immense, as is the indignity and anxiety around defecating under these conditions.

The government’s promise of free basic services for all seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel for women living in informal settlements. But this has not panned out as planned, especially with the privatisation of services. In the meantime, women in informal settlements still worry about where to do their most private ablutions so they are safe from the dangers of rape and murder. Many still have to worry about where to dispose of their family’s bodily waste without enraging their neighbours or endangering the health of their children, who use the little bits of remaining untainted ground as playgrounds. This is happening right on our doorsteps in the many informal settlements that we drive by while we crinkle up our noses at the smell that hangs in the air around them. Nobody really cares what goes on inside those shantytowns except those who live this reality. So it makes perfect sense that as a last call this shit be taken into towns and dumped on government building steps as a protest against these unsanitary conditions.

Perhaps bringing this reality into the public sphere will change things. Perhaps the dumping of human faeces on officialdom will become part of a women’s social justice revolution. After all it is mostly women who have to walk to fetch water, who have to conceal their families’ defecation, who have to tend to sick children and bury those who die young. It could well be the most radical and defiant performative political protest to have been staged in a post-1994 South Africa, and it is most probably a sign of more to come. Surely, in the shit fearing, sanitised middle class and elitist society, this may actually mobilise people into a faster sanitation rollout plan.

It is all about the shit really. This problem of shitting brings all socioeconomic issues into sharp focus. Shit is both real and measurable. As are the many diseases caused by unhindered faecal matter that proliferates when government is not delivering on its promise of sanitation for all. The moralistic exclamations of how disgusting shit is will have to be pushed out of our social justice discourse and this act of defiance must come in from the margins and be read and interpreted as symbolic of the anger and rage that this deprivation is creating in a country that boasts a Constitution that promised a clean and safe environment for all.

Poor people are sick of living in cesspools and waiting for sanitation. They are sick of watching their children die young.

So what if the only way to get those in power to take notice of the untenable nature of living in tin shanty virtual death-camps in which your own body becomes your enemy, is to quite literally bring the most basic human bodily function into the public sphere everywhere. Imagine 2.6 billion people all dumping their shit on the steps of parliaments all over the world to demand access to sanitation and services. Maybe this will compel those in power to face up to the dire impact that poverty and lack of sanitation has on those who are forced into situations where even shitting has to be a political act.

Indeed the only shame around defecation we, as a society should feel, is the fact that so many are denied access to decent sanitation and are forced to shit like wild animals in a modern landscape.

This article first appeared on the South African Civil Society Information Service.

Article written by Gillian Schutte

Film by Sipho Singiswa and Gillian Schutte

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    • mark

      This is an issue that needs to be dealt with around South Africa immediately. But I do enjoy the politics of only using a cape town (DA run municipality) “township” as an example. I guess showing that the regions run by a seemingly all black government that have not yet provided for disenfranchised blacks, detracts from the argument. Even through the who flung dung scenario has been played out in Cape town. But then again if you read Gillian Schuttes previous articles she only takes aim at white people in her diatribes so the focus of her attention is understandable.

      But key to this valid point is what solutions are there to this issue that affects human dignity, health and well being? I don’t see anybody offering answers. All I see are people presenting stories from different ideologies or discourses and throwing blame.

      The ANCs poor service delivery record shows that they need help and the DAs temporary measure of providing portable chemical toilets while services are planned for and rolled out is also seen as unacceptable.

      So lets rather here from hands on people and hear some solutions in this forum. Any ideas people?

    • http://www.biogaspro.com/about-biogas/agama-biogaspro-are-improved-septic-tanks.html Robert Branch

      Thank you, very important subject. Where are the Municipal Environmental Officers, I hope they are on Biogas practical survey trips.

      Come on provinicial HR Depts, stipulate you would want Biogas qualifications as part of EO candidate requirements. Seems EO candidates are in short supply here, http://www.indeed.co.za/jobs?q=Environmental+Officer&start=10

      Perhaps even get your recruitment agencies to hire in from overseas where such Biogas plants have been up and running for years

      Would it not be wonderful for the residents to have their waste become fuel for their cooking and heating requirements.

      http://www.sabiogas.org/

      http://www.biogaspro.com/about-biogas/agama-biogaspro-are-improved-septic-tanks.html

      Thank you again for a thought provoking piece on the most basic of social issues.
      This paragraph in particular hits home.

      ” In the meantime, women in informal settlements still worry about where to do their most private ablutions so they are safe from the dangers of rape and murder. Many still have to worry about where to dispose of their family’s bodily waste without enraging their neighbours or endangering the health of their children, who use the little bits of remaining untainted ground as playgrounds. ”

      Lets clean up our act together and help the impoverished communities to not only remove their waste from their childrens feet and hand but to use this waste to heat the water to remove it , whilst gaining clean water and compost to grow…

    • Mariana de Leuca

      There is, of course, another side to this. Read Helen Zille’s article “The politics behind the toilet wars” which can be found on http://www.politicsweb.co.za. Like Mark I ask: Why Cape Town?

    • Momma Cyndi

      We have had toilets since the days of the Roman Empire. One would think that by now it would be possible to build them in areas where water tables were high or dolomite was present.

      As a child, I remember the family celebration of the instillation of our septic tank. We no longer had to fetch pig manure for the long drop. It was still a wooden, spider full (arachnophobic to this day) ‘uithuis’ and you still had to avoid the vicious garden gander (that bird was psychotic), but the smell was better and the labour less. Now the idea of living without an en suite is unthinkable. Aunt Lettie dying on the shiny metal septic loo from a lightening strike may have influenced my preference for porcelain inside loos, somewhat.

      If I had to do my business in a bucket, I’d also fling it at politicians. I’ve never used one of the new fangled ‘flushing’ loos but the fact that the people who are supposed to clean them have been on strike since April makes them sound quite awful. I understand why the ANC is so unhappy about the protest as (like the non-bullet proof walls) it is likely to backfire. The WCape and Gauteng are the only places with even vaguely acceptable levels of sanitation.

      Something I would still like to know is why sleeping, eating, living in a shack, that can be put up within half a day, is acceptable but going to the loo in one isn’t.

    • http://Shitandsocialjustice proactive

      @ mark …the best response to crude, one sided & emotional blogs would be to ignore them!

      ….the last untrue statement alone…..”is the fact that so many are denied access to decent sanitation”………….(by law?, by order of whom? circumstances? own choice? etc)…would justify unending debates!

      Some sort of solutions are possible, if left to a group of rational thinking professionals, like planers in the fields of: social- economics, health/educationalists, town planers, civil engineers, financiers etc…

      Once a bunch of none professionals and irrational thinking politicians become involved- that is when such problems become endless misery and unsolvable!

      Nobody is “forced” to leave a rural area, swop a tranquil, rather tribal lifestyle with the known squalor of shack dwelling. Nobody notifies anybody in advance once a person decides to take a hike to Gauteng or Capetown. Unregulated and urban sprawl is the result! Who can plan & foresee how many people arrive at what destination and when?

      Do you want to have laws demanding proof of available and decent accommodation before anybody can be employed anywhere- if unavailable than to be provided by the employer, be they private or public?

      Maybe call on entrepreneurs to provide new towns designed & built to SABS standards- just in case their is a ‘trek’ from the eastern cape on its way?
      Who would pay for all that- if the have’s don’t even want to pay toll fees on the only ~8% of nationals roads!…

    • bernpm

      I agree with Mark. The article concentrates on the W Cape situation(s) and thus begins to smell like political shit as an undertone.
      Very little is said about what the population is doing to address the situation other than spreading the shit over a wider area.

      During my army days we were stationed in primitive barracks. Toilets? An oblong building with pots against the long wall, little separations and no doors.
      Different personal perceptions about hygiene, made us make a request for a “shit brigade” to free up men to clean the toilets twice a day. We got permission to use the fire hoses and taps for this purpose. The dirty people got the message fairly quickly and the clean people were happy.

      If unemployment is rife in these squatter camps, there should be enough hands to help erecting and/or cleaning facilities The old saying: “God helps those who can help themselves”.
      Is this the same population who did not want open toilets (understandable so) and then broke down the metal protection (quickest solution at the time) because the protection was not to their liking.
      If they have the time for a protest march, they could also organize a “shit brigade” of sorts on the other 29 days in a month.
      I live in a small village surrounded by some townships in the North Cape. Yes, most people have an RDP type house with a little ground. Cleanly kept, growing vegies.
      The village has the equivalent of the bucket system. The “shit car” comes on request to remove…

    • bernpm

      continue:
      The village has the more sophisticated equivalent of the bucket system. The “shit-car” comes on request to remove my “afval” from the concrete tank in front of my house.

      Has anybody in these townships ever thought of starting a compost industry? Or selling/delivering to a compost industry??

    • http://necrofiles.blogspot.com Garg Unzola

      It’s truly fitting that Lacan would be quoted in an article on shit. Regardless, service delivery is one of the few strong points of the DA – one area where they most certainly and undeniably stand head and shoulders above the ruling party. In other areas, they’re just ANC-Lite.

    • Tofolux

      It is quite astounding that the DA who professes to be “human-rights orientated” defies and ignores the basic rights of human beings, this according to the Human Rights Commission on this particular issue. It is further astounding that the result of this debacle is due to the failure of the Mayor and the Premier to resolve an issue with a service provider and this without providing alternative service or relief to the residents and the result of a particular porta-poo that is the DA’s idea of the bucket system. The extent of information-tampering on this issue if totalling shocking and further proof of their continued bias. The particular question that needs to asked is; what is the DA’s agenda iro africans in particular? If this instance is anything to go by, it is quite cynical that they continue to deliver the best service to those in leafy suburbs this whilst continuing to fail those living outside those leafy suburbs. The number of protests on a wide range of issues in the W Cape (eg De Doorns, the farmer-worker protests etc) is concrete proof of the continued marginalisation of communities. Hence why is it that civil society, media-houses and all those people who take this govt to court are no-where to be seen iro ”black or affrican” issues? Why are journos on a particular 24hr news channel telling residents of CT that they should be happy to ‘dump”in these porta-poos and why is the Mayor and Premier allowed to fail communities all over the WCape?

    • the truth

      For once Gillian, I agree with you although your use of the DA run CT is disingenuous. This is a huge problem across South Africa. I suspect much of it can be attributed to uncontrolled land occupation occasioned by a huge influx of illegals and the process of urbanisation, a lack of town planning, defunct municipalities, and their sheer inability to even begin to manage and maintain exisiting facilities. Also people are expecting miracles. How does one have flush toilets in a so-called “squatter camp” that has absolutely no infrastructure? And who is to blame in that case? It is a hugely complex problem that is not going to go away and in the process, our citizens are losing their dignity. I have no answers, but my heart breaks for my fellow South Africans. As the old saying goes, “beggars can’t be choosers” and I for one, would happily use a “long drop,” a bucket toilet or a portable toilet in the absence of anything else. (By the way I did so in my youth, and we then graduated to soak pit sanitation – which we had to dig up every few years and maintain). Would soak pits be of any assistance? First prize would be an invention that is capable of (perhaps chemically?) reducing faeces to a harmless substance, or perhaps breaking it down completely.

    • Tofolux

      Can I ask of all of the above who continue to defend the miserable record of the DA in the WCape and who claim that this is the “best-run” province, why the people in this particular province is so unhappy with service delivery? If you cannot serve the people in ONE province and if they are so unhappy with your service, what makes you think you can deliver in any other province?

    • Mariana de Leuca

      @ Tofolux

      Since you brought up the S A Human Rights Commission, you should know that Isaac Mangena, spokesman for the SAHRC, has said that they agreed that there is a problem with the provision of water and sanitation in all provinces – it is not exclusive to the Western Cape.

      Can you truthfully tell us that every single person living in every informal settlement in provinces under the control of the ANC has access to a proper flushing toilet, and that there are no bucket toilets, porta-loos (chemical toilets), or uncovered toilets in those informal settlements? You can’t, can you? Therefore the question to be asked is: what is the the ANC’s agenda iro Africans in particular?

      I find it shameful that this issue has become politicised, particularly by those who cannot claim to have clean hands.The people who are suffering are not politicians, and this is an issue that should be of concern to all South Africans irrespective of their political affiliation.

    • bernpm

      @Tofolux: “Can I ask of all of the above who continue to defend the miserable record of the DA in the WCape and who claim that this is the “best-run” province, why the people in this particular province is so unhappy with service delivery? ”

      ANC Mr Fransman and Mr Ehrenreich can give you the answers.

      The tactic behind this: make the shit in the Cape stink more and further so that the stink in other provinces smells like roses.
      Election time tactics from the party who realises that it is loosing credibility fastest.

    • DeeGee

      @Tofolux. As you are well aware (and since SA politics is in the business of blame) , the DA inherited a lot of these problems from the ANC and the NP before them (which we know are one in the same), so I think you’re being dishonest. It would also appear, at face value, that the ANC and the ANCYL are making it difficult for the WC government to do their job effectively, which is counterintuitive, since the ANC claims as one of it’s objectives the creation of a united democratic society (so says their website).

      The reality in SA is that not one of the provinces is run well. If you claim otherwise, you’re a fool.

    • Tofolux

      @Mariana, it is on record that the SAHRC has called the Mayor and Premier to order and pronounced that this is a crisis and a health risk. This incident once again proves that these two leaders have absolutely no interest in improving the lives of the poor. The bucket-system was imposed on blacks by the apartheid system and this porta-poo is a re-inforcement of that system. This practise is extremely political and this has been evidenced when the Mayor wrongfully accused the youth league and even went as far as to accuse Isaac Mangena of being in cahoots with the youth league. The irony, truthfully, is that you cannot claim that this is the ”best-run” province when residents are this unhappy and risk arrest so that these two leaders cannot choose to ignore a valid plight. And honestly, the ANC has never re-inforced apartheid style service delivery to the poor. If this bucket system took over 50yrs to render an inhumane and horrendous service to blacks in general then clearly the ruling party will seek to render a service (yes flushing toilets) that will restore our dignity. As the residents have said, this porta-poo is undignified and a health risk. Hence how is it that the complaints of those who have no choice but to use a terrible system are ignored and how is it that those who use flush toilets can conclude that there is nothing wrong with this terrible practise and that residents should be “happy”? This patronising is insulting.

    • Mariana de Leuca

      @ Tofolux

      You ask why some of us continue to defend the DA. I can’t speak for others but I live in Cape Town, I know first hand what is happening here and I understand the social dynamics in this province. My knowledge is not informed by ANC propaganda. Most of the service delivery protests over recent months were politically orchestrated. The City of Cape Town has now been granted a final court interdict against those individuals who interfere with service delivery, particularly the servicing of toilets in the informal settlements. This interdict was obtained against 89 former Sannicare employees and seven residents of Ward 40 who are associated with the ANCYL.

      I find it quite interesting that Gillian Schutte has used here the same article about Mooitrap in Wallacedene that she wrote in August 2010, in the context of the current situation in the Western Cape. Here is the link to ‘Lack of Service Delivery and Women':

      http://www.mediaforjustice.net/index.php/gender/8-gender

      The article was written about a year after the DA took control of the Western Cape, and reflects the conditions in Wallacedene as they were at that time, shortly after the DA inherited the informal settlement from the ANC who were in power in the WC from 2002 to May 2009, and who faced the same challenges the DA faces today with regard to the provision of proper sanitation to a settlement that is situated on a high water table area and which is prone to flooding.

    • Momma Cyndi

      Tofolux

      http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=178724

      Western Cape and Gauteng are the ONLY provinces that come even vaguely close to doing something about the awful situation

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/gillianschutte Gillian Schutte
    • Tofolux

      @Mariana,I am a Capetonian, born and bred and schooled on the gutter education meted out to persons such as myself. I too am aware of Blikkiesdorp, a newly created shanty-town by the Premier of WC on the promise to persons living there, that they would receive new houses. I wonder how many have moved from this dismal conditions into new dignified living conditions. But here is the point, fact of the matter is that most of the service delivery meted out to the poor in WC is dismally different to the services given to those who live in leafy surburbs. Why is that? Also, protest is a constitutional right and since when has anyone accorded themselves the responsibility to tell anyone who can and cannot protest? The social dynamics and reality of this province is that certain communities receive services based on a particular hierarchy much like the hierarchy created by apartheid. The point that remains uncontested, is that there is no basic service delivery to those who are poor and those who live in townships. Ride through these areas and you will see heaps of rubbish and yet in adjoining leafy suburbs,municipal workers cut the lawns, pick up the rubbish and sweep the streets. If the poor received proper service delivery, then their lights and water will not be cut, they would not resort to protests in Wallacedene (today), the farms, Swartland, De Doorns, Hout Bay etc etc. If the poor received proper toilets then clearly they would not resort to dumping their waste.

    • bernpm

      @ Tofolux. you persist in making this shit issue a serious political issue “against all odds” or reason.

      The real political solution to all population related issues would be a proper system of population (movement) control (as exist in many civilized countries). This could allow cities to manage the incoming and outgoing citizens. They could then stop ever incoming people in areas where there are no proper facilities of any sort, be it housing, sanitation, water or simply space.

      A system like that would -in SA context- naturally rejected as it limits the freedom of movement of citizens or “economic freedom”..

    • the truth

      When I was a youngster we lived on the outskirts of Durban and we also had bucket toilets. I still remeber the smell of Jeyes Fluid. So they were’nt only foisted on blacks. People have very short memories or are completely blinkered when it comes to white privelege.

    • Jack Sparrow

      It’s sad that people like the writer cannot be objective about a serious problem but, like Tofolux, use it to drive party political agendas. Truth is that it is an African problem in that rapid urbanisation by job seekers flock to where there is a perception that there will be employment and maybe housing, medical care etc.

      These people come from rural SA where conditions are even more horrific than living in a cardboard shack in a Cape Town winter and from the rest of Africa where dictators and warlords hold sway. That they end up in Cape Town shows that there is hope there in comparison with many other parts of SA and Africa. Interpret that how you will.

      The problem with toilets is simple. It’s money. Government steals it to build Nkandla’s instead of spending it wisely to improve services and encourage businesses to create employment with incentives like lower tax rates. Without employment the people who want the toilets cannot own or contribute; they are just vote cattle in a political game.

    • michael

      Does this not show that western style development is not the solution but the problem in africa.

    • michael

      Gillian, may i suggest a semester course in economics so you will understand why so many people are poor and will stay poor and even good politicians cannot do much about it.It will relieve you of delusion and give you a clearer view of the world we live in.

    • mark

      @Tofolux and @Gillian Schutte.

      I was up in Ulundi yesterday for a tender briefing and was astounded (well not really)to see that all the people up there live with pit latrines or homesteads that showed no evidence of toilet facillities at all. This is not a good backdrop to view the monumentally priced upgrades to the kings properties, nkandla or your arguments against the western cape and DA. So when every criticism you make of service delivery in the country is aimed at the DA, it just shows how subjective you actually are.

      So I can see why people voted foir the IFP in Nkandla, because looking ointo JZs house with R200million upgrades must make them dizzy when for 19 years they have not been given anything.

      I suggest that the fact that the DA is actually doing something about the issue of service delivery puts them ahead of the pack and relates directly back to the information presented by Momma Cyndi above.

      And before you respond to this please read kenny kunenes open letter to the president, as well as Zweli Mkhize’s daughters article.

    • mark

      @Tofulux, your last comment can be applied to every “township” in this country. It is important to realise that the majority of them are found in ANC led areas. So again, why only focus on cape Town.

      Why arent you picketing outside City Hall in Durban to get the ANC to provide water, sewage and electricity to the people who live in these shanty towns. Because our streets are blocked with burning tyres or protesting people weekly. Everyone is angrey at lack of service delivery 19 years on and all you can do is moan at white people.

      Do you only avoid pointing fingers at the ANC because they are black and then you can’t weave your diatribes about the DA and white people into your responses?

    • Tofolux

      @mark et al, I totally agree with Loyiso who asked that the Madam Premier use this porta-poo in her lounge and relieve herself in front of family and friends and keep that porta-poo there until it is serviced every second week so that maybe she can experience the utter shame,disgust and disgrace. To me, it seems that there is some amongst us who are in complete denial. They make up stories about this and cannot subject themselves to a debate that talks about a particular reality that is unique to the poor and those living in townships in the Western Cape.

    • DeeGee

      It is possible that both Gillian and Tofolux expect the Western Cape to be perfect, because it is run by the opposition. That actually says more about the ANC than anything. Just a thought….

    • Tofolux

      @dg, not only are we regarded as refugees in our own city and not only must we plead for open-air toilets to be closed, we must now accept another form of a bucket system that further renders us undignified and inhuman.

    • mark

      @Tofulux, I think it is very important to remember that emotive responses only get you so far. From the responses that i have seen from the Western Cape government the portaloos are placed in private gardens as well as in public spaces. I know this because I have also seen them. Being cleaned three times per week also shows commitment by this government to hygeine. But there comes a point where the local population should also take ownership and assist the municipality by keeping the toilets in a clean and hygenic state.

      Now you constantly berate the DA but in reading Helen Zilles responses to this issue in the cape legislature you can see that high pressure toilet systems used on aireoplanes are also being installed in some areas to prevent excavations where the water table is too shallow and could result in additional pollution if there is a spillage/pipe leakage. The transcriptions of this meeting in question are on politicsweb. So if you disagree read up on it. And if you believe them to be false then take it up through legal avenues.

      This shows a lot of ingenuity and effort on the DA administration, but you will never acknowledge this.

      And I think @deejee sums you up pretty well.

    • Mariana de Leuca

      @ Tofolux

      “And honestly, the ANC has never reinforced apartheid style service delivery to the poor…the ruling party will seek to render a service (yes flushing toilets) that will restore our dignity”.

      All I can say is that you are either dishonest, hypocritical, seriously disillusional and probably racist as well. Have you not heard of Rammulatsi, Viljoenskroon, in the OFS which is part of the ANC-run Moqhaka Municipality? People there are forced to use open-air toilets because after more than two years 1800 open toilets have not yet been enclosed, despite visits by ANC officials, and two Human Rights Commission orders have been ignored. What of the dignity of those people, or is their dignity of less importance because Rammulatsi is not in the Western Cape? Why is the ANCYL not flinging faeces at the Mayor and Premier of the OFS? Will you call on them to relieve themselves in one of those open-air toilets, or is that particular privilege one that you reserve only for Helen Zille because she is a white person and she represents the DA?

      I have no doubt that this issue in the WC has been politicised for obvious reasons. Anyone with a heart who reads Gillian Schutte’s description of the living conditions some of our fellow human beings have to endure cannot fail to feel compassion and realise the urgent need to do everything within our power to change these circumstances. Using this as a political football does not help. It distracts our attention.

    • nguni

      Schutte and Tofolux are both ANC apologists, can’t be taken seriously. If township sanitation is that terrible in the WC and so much better in the other provinces people would have moved there long ago.. How can people be so blind as to not see what a political setup this is to sensitise the masses before the elections? The DA should stop over-reacting to these radicals and just provide spades and cement for the ‘activists’ to build their own long drops. Totally negative, dumb protests like this show them up to be completely lacking in imagination, creativity etc. Someone made the bright suggestion that township residents channel their stool production into something useful like a biogas plant. It’s a wonderful idea but you can be sure it would be sabotaged by the ANCYL crowd.

    • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/gillianschutte Gillian Schutte

      The article refers to 18 million people living without sanitation in South Africa. It speaks of 2.6 billion people in the world with no sanitation. It cannot be helped if you dissenters are so blinded by your own ideas and prejudices that you cannot even be bothered to read an article properly. The article clearly states that Wallacedene is one of the many informal settlements in South Africa. This is a nationwide problem. I happen to have done a documentary in Wallacedene around the Grootboom ruling and thus I quote people living there. Perhaps you should re read the article.

    • mark

      @Gillian Schutte thanks for clearing that up. But your constant references to the DA and the Wester Cape make us all believe otherwise.

    • DeeGee

      @ Gillian. And yet Mariana has done a far better job than you at providing some balance on this subject. Take a leaf….

    • Tofolux

      @Gillian, the deeper debate however is about our environmental pressures and the global phenomena of the rapid growth in the world population. The SA composition iro population has changed and we now see the declining of infant mortality rates and the increase in the life expectancy. This is due mostly to the improvements in our health care. We have also become more mobile especially after 1994 and because our transport infrastructure is better today with migration from rural to urban areas increases daily. The obvious problems of pollution threatening our environment is becoming more dangerous with more unplanned areas and informal settlements where there are inadequate sanitation and waste disposal facilities. Of course, cross-border migration adds another dimension. Poverty has various dimensions. Now, it cannot be helpful when some amongst fail to address challenges in a particular way especially in SA. Denialism and unnecessary belligerence will get us no-where. Using one’s waste to make a particular statement cannot be easy noting that this particular protest has not been used anywhere else in SA. We cannot be this insensitive to our societal ills and to claim that these complaints are unnecessary. The Mayor and Premier made a decision and failed to put an alternative in place until they resolved a problem that they created. It smacks of a particular arrogance when you are so shortsighted when you forget that you have placed human beings at a particular risk.

    • Mariana de Leuca

      @ Gillian

      I have read your article carefully and with attention. It is a powerful piece and I mostly agree with what you have said. I am a runner, and at times at race venues if I need the toilet I have no choice but to use a portaloo, sometimes with no toilet paper or water to wash my hands. I find the experience disgusting but at least I can go home and have a hot, soapy shower. I can only imagine how much worse it is for people, particularly women, who are forced to use such facilities several times a day. It must be absolutely degrading and soul destroying.

      However, I question why you have used an article about Mooitrap which reflects a situation which existed in 2010, down to interviews which were conducted 3 years ago.
      Are there no more recent examples?

      I also agree with Tofolux’s last post concerning the reasons for the lack of decent toilet facilities in general, but she is still politicising the issue. The situation in Cape Town is complex, and will take more to resolve than merely increasing everyone’s rates and taxes by R100 per month. For example some areas in informal settlements are impossible to service because they are ‘no go’ areas for municipal workers whose lives are threatened. I believe that so much more can be done if politics were not involved, and it is a shame that people are prevented from helping because of a political agenda.

    • mark

      @Tofulux I appreciate the fact that you referred to environmental pressures. because in 2013, with the environmental legislation we have today governments cannot just decimate land to build roads or provide infrastructure like sewage treatment plants and reticulation networks. With specific reference to sewage, the disposal of treated effluent has become so problematic in that discharging to river systems is not seen as a feasible option anymore. Poorly maintained/operational/overburdened existing works are polluting our water resources and drinking water. So do we value clean drinking water or flush toilets more?

      So when you add to the fact that EIA and town planning processes have to be run for individual waste water treatment plants as well as the pipeline networks, you can see that delivery takes time. hence my reasoning that portable flush toilets in the interim are actually a good thing. in the long term its a definite no. A Basic Assessment process takes 6 – 8 months and an EIA takes 12 – 14 months. And these timeframes are dependent on no hiccups or stumbling blocks.

      regional solutions at a scale greater than local government are required to ensure that all south africans are provided with acceptable homes and services.

      Its no longer a case of needing waterborne sewage and just building it.

    • Mariana de Leuca

      Thank you, Mark. You have proved that leaving politics out of it enables rational and lucid thought, looking at the situation objectively and ultimately finding viable solutions.

      On the other hand, politicising this kind of situation clouds the mind with emotions such as anger and defensiveness, with a focus on playing the blame game. We thus lose sight of the real underlying issues.

    • Tofolux

      @Mark, please explain this portable flush toilet. For the record, there is NO portable toilet that FLUSHES. I mean how do you flush the toilet and with what? It is a bucket that is treated with chemicals and the service provider should remove it when it is full. Once again, this proves the point that some will defend the indefensible. Also, you fail to understand the current impact of these pressures on our country noting that the majority of people prior to 1994 did not enjoy ANY infrastructure to start with. Yes, we had no roads, no electricity, no schools, no swimming pools, no flushing toilets etc etc. We were forcibly removed and our parents and grandparents were sent to homelands and places that they didnt know. The land grabs affected us directly. It is disingenuous to claims that whilst we wait for proper flushin toilets that you enjoy at whim, we must make do with a bucket-system that impacts on our health directly and seeks to dehumanise us in such a way that reinforces apartheid practises.

    • Just a thought

      @tofolux there is a monumental difference between a hole in the ground and portable toilets where excrement is captured in containers that youth league embers have been able to remove, carry and for want of a better word, dump in public spaces. So I can see that you shot your own argument down. But before you progress on another political propaganda tirade, please refer to my previous statements about weighing up environmental and social impacts being addressed in legislated processes.

    • http://www.bmgmarketing.co.za Malcolm Galt

      South Africa is a country rich in resources. If we had a half competent government, the people of SA would not have to suffer the indignity this article highlights. I just wish that there would be more tactical challenges made against government to up their game and produce results. Its very sad that 20 years after the end of apartheid, we still have this level of poverty.