The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) has missed a deadline to file a court-ordered report on its progress in moving 177 families from a sewage-contaminated informal settlement near Despatch where more than 1 000 people have lived without adequate sanitation for years.
Resident Petrus Honiball said the municipality had also failed to make any arrangement with the community to move it.
Last year the Port Elizabeth High Court ordered the municipality to provide it with regular progress reports after officials agreed to move residents of Kriekie Valley, Moe Valley and Manshashe Village to new land.
This followed legal action against the municipality on behalf of the residents after officials failed to clean the three toilets used by the community for more than four years.
In a progress report filed with the court last month, officials said the relocation of the Kriekie Valley family was scheduled for between December 6 and January 30, depending on the circumstances of each family.
After reviewing the living circumstances set out in affidavits, the court ordered the provision of 25 chemical toilets for use by the communities until proper sanitation was provided.
At the time there were no working toilets in the area; people had to relieve themselves in the bush.
Pictures placed before the court also showed that the few points where water was available in the townships were fitted with taps on the ground, surrounded by heaps of faeces.
The municipality has, despite countless requests from residents and ward councillor Francois Greyling, refused since 2011 to clean the two toilets used by more than 1 000 people.
“The municipality only seems interested in doing anything when it fears prosecution,” Greyling said.
“As soon as it has a breather it takes it. The situation only progresses when the court gets involved. From the start it has shown that it has no will to assist these people. I cringe to think what would have happened if my office wasn’t there to act.
“Are we going to wait three more years and have to deliver further threats from the court before it delivers as it should? It is time heads started rolling over this issue, starting right at the top.”
The Legal Aid SA attorney representing the three communities, Dr Henry Lerm, said the residents had not been moved and they had also not received a scheduled progress report from the municipality.
Honiball said the residents were waiting to be moved.
“Everybody is still living exactly where they lived when the court gave the order. We are all waiting on the municipality. It is a very big headache for us,” he said.
Despite assurances by municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki that the officials involved in the relocation would answer all questions by yesterday, no answers were forthcoming.