Fears for safety as sewage ‘pool’ deepens in Bongweni


TWO deep holes allegedly dug by a company contracted by the Chris Hani District Municipality continues to overflow with sewage, posing a hazard for the health and safety for the community of Bongweni in Komani.

Bongweni resident Mlamli Golela said a drain blockage in the area was fixed by the municipality at the beginning of November. On his return from Port Elizabeth in December, he claims a private company hired by the municipality was draining sewage from the same drain that had been blocked in November.

“I do not remember the name of the company but they dug the holes. If I were to enter inside only the top of my head would show. When I left in December there was a small puddle of sewage isnide and and when I came back in January it was overflowing.

“Our municipality does not care about us. They could at least pour something to take the smell away. Children could drown in these holes. Who would jump into a pool of sewage to save them? Women could give birth, throw their infants in here and we would never know.”

Golela said the smell was so terrible that the residents could not open their windows while Komani temperatures soared. Flies were invading nearby homes.

Councillor Mncedisi Mbengo of ward 17 said he was disappointed as he had been fighting for the two holes to be fixed since December.

Mbengo said, “Ever since Chris Hani took over the sewage services from WSSA we have not received proper services. I asked municipal workers to fix the sewage problem. They responded and said the jetting machine that would be used to drain the area was broken.

“I do not understand why, after saving millions by no longer using the services of WSSA, they did not buy new equipment. Today I saw two dogs fighting near the holes and one fell inside and drowned.”

Mbengo said he feared that, considering that schools were opening next week, that a child could fall in one of the holes.

“People call me every day about the smell that reaches all the way to the Mlungisi police station. There is a post office, a public library and a church about 10 steps away from this health hazard.”

The Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the matter fell under the umbrella of environmental health.

“This is an environmental health services matter at the district municipality level, we (department of health) are concerned about health hazards that people may be exposed to due to the mismanaged environment.”

Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa had not responded at the time of publication, with The Rep to continue following up the matter in an attempt to get answers.

Video transcription of Mlamli Golela pointing at the sewage pond:

This sir is what the municipality has left for us, it has been two to three months that this filth has been like this, our children who are young live here and play in this health hazard. The municipality does not care, we have been reporting this for a long time, but there is nothing that is happening.

The councillors are here, but we are not paid attention to….

This filth is equal to my height, if this water could be drained I would completely fit inside, now just imagine with the small children that play here, if they drowned they would not even be seen.

The municipality has done nothing as a means to put barriers around these two holes, to safe guard the people. We live with this filth….It continues to the other side over there. It is two dams…Here is some more filth, look at that…You see…it is faeces, this is also dug up, that one over there is the water that comes out from here. All this filth makes its way out like that.

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