These Inanda families have to walk to a primary school to use the toilet

Mabhuyi Buthelezi, 65, battles to carry buckets of water from trucks to her home in eThekwini municipality's Congo transit camp. (Tsoanelo Sefoloko/GroundUp)

Mabhuyi Buthelezi, 65, battles to carry buckets of water from trucks to her home in eThekwini municipality’s Congo transit camp. (Tsoanelo Sefoloko/GroundUp)

  • Families in the eThekwini Municipality’s Congo transit camp must walk to a nearby primary school if they want to use a toilet.
  • The families were moved to the camp after the deadly 2022 floods.
  • There is no running water in the camp, no working sanitation, no electricity, and the only water tank has been empty for some time.

About 250 people are still living in the Congo transit camp in Inanda, eThekwini, two years after floods destroyed their homes.

They have no running water, no working toilets, and only illegal electricity connections, according to GroundUp.

The families, from Nhlungwane, were moved after the April 2022 floods.

First, they were sheltered in the community hall, but for two years they have been living in the transit camp, about 47km from Durban city centre.

The camp is built from rhino boards, which are now bent and broken. There is only one water tank which has been empty for some time; and the showers and flush toilets in the ablution block are not working.

Two rooms burned down when residents used candles and other residents had to break the rhino boards to save those inside.

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According to community leader Mhlonishwa Luthuli, there were up to 250 people in the camp, including children.

He said things were much better in the community hall, where there was water and electricity.

The water tanker used to come twice a week, added Luthuli, to fill the tank which fed the showers and toilets in the ablution block.

But the tanker started coming less frequently; the sewerage system got blocked up; the toilets overflowed, and after repeated attempts to fix them, the community decided to lock the toilets.

Now residents who want to use toilets must walk to the nearby Sekusile Primary School.

Wendy Mkhize from the school said the school also relied on water tanks, and when these were empty, residents from the transit camps must bring a bucket of water to flush the toilets.

Luthuli, whose family survives on a child grant, said he had tried to keep the toilets in use, but it was impossible.

“Now, I am really tired because the municipality doesn’t want to make the effort to fix the ablution system.”

Thembisile Khanyile lives with her sister and their seven children in two rooms.

Khanyile said:

My sister used to live in her room before it was burned by the candles. That is when most people decided to accept that we need go for the option of the illegal electricity.

When the water tanker does come to Congo, it stops on the edge of the camp.

Mabhuyi Buthelezi, 65, said she battled to walk fast enough with her buckets to get to the water truck 300m away. She must fill two buckets to store water to use at the school’s toilets.

eThekwini spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said the City had successfully relocated residents from 29 transit camps into various housing projects, leaving 42 transit camps still to be cleared.

To date, a total of 3 676 families had been relocated.

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“The plan is to complete the relocation of the remaining transit camps by the end of 2026, but this deadline could be extended due to unavailability of suitable land,” she said.

“The reality is that suitable alternative land is scarce and funding for new houses is severely constrained, limiting construction and allocation of homes.”

Sisilana did not answer our questions about water and toilets. 

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