A group of residents picketed outside the Tarkastad magistrate’s court when one of their own appeared on charges of damage to property on Monday, after he poured a bucket of faeces at the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) offices last week.
Resident Sandile Nocanda who lives across the road from a sewage-spewing Zola pump station was arrested last Friday, after pouring raw sewage at the municipal offices out of frustration.
Nocanda indicated he was allegedly sent from pillar to post by the CHDM staff when he went to report the spilling sewage that had invadad their homes with an unbearable stench for years.
“The municipal honeysucker trucks would usually go and draw the sewage after we had reported it, but that did not happen last year. My house is the first one near the pump station and we have the worst. It is even more frustrating when you report something that negatively affects your livelihood and that of the whole community and you are disregarded by those who are supposed to assist.”
He said he travelled back and forth to the municipal offices last Tuesday trying to get the raw sewage removed, after he had been told in the morning that there was a truck available, but not a driver.
“I found a municipal truck driver who promised to help, but when I went to enquire later that day I was told the truck had been sent to Hofmeyr. I had been to the municipality three times that day and out of anger I left when they could not help me and came back with a bucket of sewage for them to feel our frustration. I was arrested three days later, but the mess at the pump station is still the same,” Nocanda said.
Another affected resident, Thembisa Sidina, said the smell was starting to affect their health as children in the community had a bad rash caused by the exposed raw sewage.
“We can hardly wear our masks because we breathe filth either way. This is a cry for help, we need the municipality to fix whatever the problem is because we have endured this for years and it is not right.”
DA councillor Carol Boast who brought the matter to the attention of the media said she spoke to the CHDM technical services director who said he visited the pump station on December 11, and gave staff instructions on what should be done.
“When I later told him that no work had been done there he said he said he was under the impression that the matter had been dealt with.
“I paid for people to clean up what Nocanda had done at the municipal office. I still do not understand the grounds of his arrest because no damages were caused to the property of the municipality; everything is still intact because the floor was cleaned. ”
CHDM senior manager for communications, Bulelwa Ganyaza, said both pump stations in Tarkastad had malfunctioned due to foreign objects that were often deposited in the sewer lines.
“These objects have detrimental effects on both the pump stations and the entire community as damages occur frequently. The CHDM has directed funds to assist in the operation and maintenance to the pump stations.
“Zola pump station was upgraded in 2015. Leakages still happen as there is no improvement with objects thrown into the sewer lines causing blockages. The plan is to install screens on the pump station which has been prioritised as a long-term solution. This will help to minimise damages to the pumps and processes have been finalised for installation in no time,” she said.
Ganyaza said the CHDM had ordered new pumps that would be installed as soon as they arrived and that the cleaning of both stations was expected to start on Wednesday afternoon.
“While we are aware of the challenges surrounding Tarkastad and our interventions thereof, we do not condone any criminality and damage to property. The law will therefore take its cause and we encourage community members to report any criminal activity to our customer care line,” she said.
Police spokesperson captain Lariane confirmed that Nocanda was charged with malicious damage to property and said that the case wa The case was postponed to February.