Sewage ruins residents’ Freedom Day

NOW USELESS: Ayanda Mnconywa’s television and couches were damaged by the leak

Stinking discharge damages Motherwell homeowners’ belongings

Five Motherwell families spent Freedom Day mopping up sewage after a blocked drain in their street saw litres of lumpy discharge spewing out of their toilets, sinks and drains.

Televisions, wall units, sofas, carpets and curtains were just some of the household items the Indwe Street families tried to salvage – but most had to be thrown away.

“We haven’t eaten since [Wednesday]. We can’t think about cooking or eating here. Who knows what germs are floating around,” Ntombikhaya Xoli said.

Xoli, 48, who lives with her daughters Sisipho, 15, and Phumelela, 11, said she had no choice but to sleep in her home despite the unbearable stench.

“I have two children, I am unemployed, and now this,” she said. “I am so disappointed because this was not the first time we complained about the drain.

“As it fills up it starts to smell and when we call [the municipality] they say they don’t deal with smells, only blockages.”

Xoli said curtains and bedding had to be washed because they smelt bad. Her cupboards in the bedrooms and kitchen were also damaged, as well as a wall unit and some electrical appliances.

Workers were unblocking the drain behind the houses just before 4pm on Wednesday.

Shortly after the workers left, sewage started to spew out of the residents’ toilets, sinks and drains.

Siyasanga Gidana, 23, said: “The municipality . . . just threw some chemicals down [the drain] to try to mask the smell.

“They also said someone would come to fix the problem, but we are still waiting.” She said her household items were not too badly damaged but she was struggling to remove the smell.

Municipal spokesmen Mzobanzi Jikazana and Mthubanzi Mniki were unavailable for comment.

However, mayoral chief of staff Kristoff Adelbert said the blockage had been caused by large rocks and carpets in the drain. He said earlier that he had received confirmation that officials were on the scene yesterday to assist the families in cleaning up their homes.

However, when The Herald contacted the families they said the officials had not arrived.

Adelbert later said: “It turns out there may have been some delays with some of the teams.” He said blankets from the safety and security directorate were being sent to the families.

Residents whose items were damaged could apply to the municipality’s legal services department to be compensated. Indwe Street resident Ndileka Tokwe, 40, said ward councillor Sandile Nzanzeka had promised to send food parcels and blankets, but nothing had been received by late yesterday afternoon.

Tokwe, who lives with her mother Nontutuzelo, 68, and daughter Xolisa, 14, said: “We have reported the drain on numerous occasions.

“My mother is an old lady, she cannot handle all these chemicals.” Tokwe said she had spent the night washing curtains and bedding.

The flatscreen TV of Ayanda Mnconywa, 49, was ruined by sewage and his couches and other appliances were also damaged. Nzanzeka could not be reached for comment.

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