SJC Protest Calls For Action on Cape Town Sanitation Crisis

On Tuesday 25 June 2013 the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) will march to Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille’s Office to demand urgent action on the ongoing sanitation crisis facing the City of Cape Town’s informal settlements.  Contrary to recent claims by the City and Province of near universal access, 77 783 homes in the City currently have “inadequate” access, 29 058 homes have no access, and 48 509 homes use “bucket latrines” (CoCT, Water Services Development Plan, 2013; Stats SA, Census 2011).  This crisis will persist until every man, woman and child living in the City has access to a clean, safe and dignified toilet.  

The SJC has engaged with the City of Cape Town and other levels of government on a sustained basis for more than three years to improve sanitation provision, particularly on improving monitoring and maintenance of existing facilities. There have been some significant improvements, but much remains to be done and progress is happening too slowly. Tomorrow, we will submit a memorandum containing three demands critical to improving sanitation provision in Cape Town:

(1)  Fix Outsourced Services:  We Demand Action on Mshengu Services, Sannicare and Other Companies That Fail to Deliver!

Recent months have exposed how private companies providing basic services are failing Cape Town’s poor and working class communities.  This is not a new phenomenon. For more than a year Mayor de Lille has admitted that the city is not doing enough to monitor outsourced services in poor areas, but has failed to detail how this will be remedied.  The SJC’s social audit conducted in April 2013 exposed serious shortcomings with the provision of more than 5000 chemical flush toilets at a cost of more than R150 million by Mshengu Services.  We exposed several instances where services outlined in the contract – such as a daily cleaning service, the hiring of community liaison officers, and the securing of toilets to the ground – were not being implemented.  The City has subsequently admitted to this, but has failed to take meaningful remedial action.  The SJC and other organisations have further highlighted problems with maintenance of bucket toilets in Gugulethu and Nyanga by companies such as Sannicare, driven largely by a failure of the City to intervene when problems first arise. 

The SJC is calling on the City of Cape Town to develop and publish a detailed plan explaining how monitoring of outsourced contracts in the City will be reviewed.  We have further called on the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and Auditor General to conduct an independent audit of the Mshengu contract.   

(2)  Fix Maintenance of Flush Toilets: We Demand A Policy and Plan for The Communal Toilet Janitorial Service!

Following pressure from the SJC, the City of Cape Town introduced a janitorial service one year ago to maintain communal flush toilets in informal settlements.  While this has led to some improvements, Mayor de Lille has failed to meet her commitment to consult the public and develop a clearly defined policy and plan on how the janitorial service should operate.  As a result, the service has often been chaotic and ineffective.  Janitors are often forced to clean toilets without protective clothing, equipment or training; and communities have not been consulted and complain that the service is not operating effectively.  These and other shortcomings are all a result of not having a policy and plan to inform implementation and monitoring.  

The SJC is calling on the City of Cape Town to produce an urgent timeline – including provisions for the sufficient meaningful participation by citizens, civil society and experts  – for the development of a policy and plan.  

(3)  Deliver More Toilets:  Stop The Indignity of Having To Use a Bush!  

Despite tens of thousands of Capetonians having no toilet and usage patterns being far too high in areas that do have such facilities, the City of Cape Town does not currently have adequate detailed, integrated and time-bound plans in place to progressively provide additional informal settlement sanitation facilities where needed.  The Water Service Development Plan provides some guidance and sets targets, but does not explain how these will be implemented.    

The SJC is calling on the City of Cape Town to produce a detailed plan for the delivery of new sanitation facilities where needed to progressively address the sanitation crisis.


Time & Date:  10h00, Tuesday 25 June 

Venue: Weather dependent – Kaizergracht (no rain) or Cape Town Civic Centre (rain). Please call tomorrow to confirm!

For more information please contact:

Phumeza Mlungwana on 0744178306 or

Axolile Notywala on 0743861584 or

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