– By Bev Mortimer– Residents in the parts of Hankey area are fed up because they say they are “swimming in human waste” following the past week of rains that caused dam levels of water to form in some Centerton suburb streets, dams that have floating faecal stools flowing from a nearby sewerage dam.
Centerton community members said yesterday that for six days this has gone on and their pleas for help from three lots of disaster management officials have gone unheeded. In desperation they contacted BayTV and St Francis Chronicle, local community media with the cry: Dololo uncedo (Xhosa for ‘Please help’).
Heavy rains have fallen in Kouga but in some parts there is no storm water drainage and in the small farming town of Hankey, since the 12th of May until 18 May, homes have remained surrounded by storm waters filled with sewerage. Community members say they asked the Kouga Municipality for help on 12 May but on 18 May still no help was forthcoming.
They say there is a sewerage dam nearby which needs pumps to operate, but the pumps don’t work when there is load-shedding, and the resultant overflow of human waste is surrounding their homes.
Residents contacted their local municipality in the Disaster Management. Personnel from that department dropped off empty bags for affected residents and told people to fill the bags with sand to put by their doors to block the Hankey town to no avail they claim. Speaking and acting on behalf of residents, Xolani Mthana, who has a home in the worst affected street, Vumazonke street, said he contacted the Kouga Municipality call centre and was referred to water (and sewerage?) from getting into their houses. Then left without any further help!
“Where are going to get sand? We do not have transport and most of the residents do not have the strength to walk and dig up sand, then carry the heavy bags back through this filthy water to their front doors…
“Most of the residents there in the daytime are mature or elderly women living with small children. Some have abandoned their homes since the 12th and stay with neighbours elsewhere in Centreton. They have been complaining to no avail the municipality.
“The people we voted for last election, are failing us dismally,” Xolani said.
He recounts that he then contacted the Eastern Cape Disaster management office, Sarah Baartman District, disaster management’s office and reported the matter there then he went to went to Jeffreys Bay the main Municipality seeking help.
“They promised to help but nothing has happened,” Xolani said. How long must our Centreton people suffer? We are drowning in ‘k..!’ Nothing is happening,” Xolani lamented.
“According to my count, there is a total of four similar dams – two in Ngcayisa street, one in Stovolk and the worst one is in Vumazonke street – and it is not just dam water – it is mixed with raw sewerage’. We are swimming in human waste!”
Residents are concerned for their health saying the whole area is a health hazard. One resident, Zanele Klaas, said children were vomiting, while other residents complained of suffering from diarrhea . Residents say this flooding in Centerton has gone on for years now and nothing is done to prevent this happening again, and it was alleged that some drownings had occurred.
Asked for comment the Kouga’s Mayor, Horatio Hendricks, issued the following statement:
“Kouga Municipality issued our first weather warning on the 11 May in lieu of the forecast of excessive rain so residents could prepare themselves, particularly those in low-lying areas. Our initial report indicates that we have received around 119 mm of rain in the past few days.
“Kouga Municipality immediately established an Incident Command Centre to manage areas affected with localised flooding. We have been proactive in trying to help community members to get rid of the excess water by digging trenches, issuing of sand bags and have roaming suction trucks to remove water from households.
“Furthermore, should any evacuation be required we have prepared the Vusumzi Community Hall in case anyone would need shelter. Kouga is a drought-stricken area and we appreciate the rain.
“However, the unintended consequence is localised flooding in low lying areas. We are looking at the spatial planning of areas most affected to avoid this from happening in the future.”