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Dozens of angry shack dwellers from Ramaphosa informal settlement demonstrated outside Fezeka Sub-Council on Tuesday, demanding that the City of Cape Town hire a new company to clean their bucket toilets.

Mshengu used to clean toilets in Ramaphosa before Moreki Distributors took over in August last year, said Sinesipho Mvalo, who led the angry demonstration. “We don’t want Moreki Distributors in Ramaphosa because we are not happy about the way it does its job and the way it hires cleaners,” she said. Moreki Distributors angered the shack dwellers when it failed to clean the toilets for three weeks, she continued, “Because our toilets are filthy and swarming with maggots, our kids will contract diseases and germs. Our areas smell.”

Mvalo said Moreki Distributors provides a substandard cleaning service. “Mshengu used to clean our toilets thrice a week in all areas, but Moreki Distributors don’t clean them for two weeks sometimes,” she said.

Shack dweller Lindiwe Phongoma, who stays with her three young daughters, said she instructed them to stay away from the toilets. “The unhygienic condition of the bucket toilets has forced me to make my kids shit in a bucket inside my shack and empty it into a small dam nearby,” she said. Phongoma said she uses one bucket toilet along with eight families. It fills up in one week.

Nonkululeko Shenxane, a resident of Ramaphosa said: “We want Moreki Distributors bosses to leave with their toilets. They have no respect for us. We were so angry with the quality of the company’s work that we turned away the company’s truck last week. The cleaners’ contract has ended anyway,” she said.

Mvalo said she and other shack dwellers want Moreki Distributors to change the way it employs cleaners. “Presently, the company hires cleaners for a year. We want it to hire them for six months so that other unemployed residents can also get cleaning jobs,” she said. “The contract expired on August 21 anyway; we are protesting to ensure that we don’t experience the same problems when other cleaners are hired the next time around.”

The demonstrators want companies responsible for cleaning toilets in Ramaphosa to hire fourteen shack dwellers from the municipal database. Mvalo added: “We want the company to organise a community meeting where residents will appoint supervisors and six additional cleaners.”

The city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste, Alderman Xanthea Limberg, said: “After a few meetings with the leaders of the Ramaphosa informal settlement and Sub-council 13, the leadership did not back down on their demands and vowed to stop services in their area until their demands have been met.”

“It is not true that Moreki Distributors has been neglecting their responsibilities. On the contrary, the community has prevented Moreki Distributors from carrying out the work they have been appointed to do, she said.

Limberg said: “The City assures residents that the work performance of all newly appointed contractors are closely monitored to ensure they are providing the service according to the conditions of their contracts. The City will continue to monitor their operation and will take necessary action if they are not adhering to agreed service standards.

“Moreki was awarded this contract following a fair and competitive tender process and the City is legally prohibited from interfering with this appointment by reversing this decision.”