Something stinks about Gauteng’s most expensive toilets

Busi Zwane prepares water in front of the R1.9 billion tender toilets in Tembisa , Ekurhuleni, 11 July 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

A DA oversight inspection in Tembisa found the toilets at the centre of a R1.9 billion tender scandal severely lacking, and RDP houses unfinished.

The most expensive toilets in the province are not only stinking and unclean, they also don’t accommodate the old or sickly people.

That’s the situation at Madelakufa Extension 2 and Winnie Mandela informal settlements in Tembisa at Ekurhuleni, where a R1.9 billion tender scandal was bedevilling the Ekurhuleni Metro which built chemical toilets that have now become a stink on its conscience.

The funds to build the toilets were not only inflated but were also allegedly looted.

A number of communal toilets and individual zink toilets were erected by small scale contractors. The toilets were serviced once a week but they remained dirty, stinky and broken.

One of the R1.9 billion tender toilets in Tembisa , Ekhuruleni, 11 July 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

“This toilets are not helping us, instead they make us more sick “said Augustin Mahlangu, a resident of Madelakufa Extension.

Mahlangu, who has been residing at Madelakufa for 27 years, is one of the residents who suffered the consequences of a whopping R1.9 billion spent by Ekurhuleni Metro on chemical tender toilets.

“I have been residing at this place for so long but all I see is proof that the government has abandoned us. How do they expect me to use these toilets as a sick person who use walking crutches,” Mahlangu said.

Mahlangu, 44, is mostly worried about the safety of his children who have to jump over raw sewage that was overflowing from a blocked manhole. The manhole was open and sewage and dirty water that contained disposable nappies were spilling out.

“I always have to monitor the children when they are using the toilet and even when they are playing outside because this place is a mess, unsafe and unhealthy,” he added.

“We were hoping for better changes after the election as they promised, but really there is nothing changing at all,” he said.

DA Gauteng shadow MEC for human settlements and cooperative governance and traditional affairs, Kate Lorimer (L) and Ekhuruleni shadow MMC for human settlements, Councillor Philip Thamahane conducting an oversight inspection at the unfinished RDP houses in the Winnie Mandela informal settlement, 11 July 2019.Picture: Nigel Sibanda

This was discovered during a DA oversight inspection led by the DA Gauteng shadow MEC for human settlements and co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), Kate Lorimer.

Lorimer and her crew visited the area after an Amabhungane investigation found the Ekurhuleni Metro spent R1.9 billion to build the toilets from 2017 to 2019, but the job was done badly by small contractors that left many beneficiaries with dirty and broken toilets.

“The toilets are dirty and some are broken and have not yet been fixed,” Lorimer said.

According to Lorimer, the toilets were not sufficient for all the residents, who received 530 toilets instead of a thousand that they were promised.

“Twenty people are sharing one toilet, which poses a health risk. Even though these chemical toilets were meant to replace the inhumane bucket system, it is alleged that this tender has been used as a looting system to siphon money from the municipality,” Lorimer said.

During the visit, the DA delegation discovered that a housing project at Winnie Mandela Tswelopele Extension was left incomplete since the building in 2016. Out of 50 houses earmarked for construction, only 23 were built while the remaining 27 were left incomplete.

“I will report this chemical ‘tender toilet ‘ matter to the Special Investigate Unit (SIU) to investigate and to conduct an audit. Should it be found that there was corruption in the procurement of these chemical ‘tender toilets’ then those implicated must face the course of the law,” Lorimer said.

Ekurhuleni mayoral spokesperson, Phakamile Mbengashe, did not respond to phone calls and a query sent to him via email.

But this week Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina denied any wrongdoing regarding the toilet tender during a media briefing in Germiston.

He defended the costs with regards to its acquisition of chemical toilets saying the City had provided 39,000 chemical toilets to 600,000 beneficiaries.

This saw the metro budget escalating to R872 million, which he said was far below the quoted figure of R1.9 billion.

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