Residents of Matererini flats in Mbare have resorted to using “flying toilets” in the absence of a proper sewage system, The Standard can reveal.
By Phyllis Mbanje
For years, the inhabitants of this flat, just like many others from Mbare’s old flats like Matapi, have had to put up with dysfunctional ablution systems and general filth. Matererini residents have now resorted to using plastic bags as toilets. This is done mostly during the night and the plastic bags are hurled out of the windows to the ground below.
This practice not only poses a health hazard but is now burdening the municipal cleaners who have to pick up the disposed filth. The other residents on the ground floor are also struggling to live with the filth.
“At times when the plastic bags hit the ground they break, spewing their contents everywhere. Handling your own waste is not pleasant, so just imagine having to touch someone else’s,” said one of the council sweepers.
The residents of blocks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Matererini flat are the worst affected and every morning they have to clean up human excrement.
“We are tired of handling the human excreta and our children are at risk,” said Netsai Chomuremba who resides in Block 4.
Her bitterness is echoed by her neighbours, who quickly congregated to give their opinions.
“The toilets do not have running water and so they fill up with all manner of filth and that is why those on the top floors resort to doing it in plastic bags, but it is not fair on us,” said Gamuchirai Chidhakwa.
The women also complained about the many shebeens in the flat whose patrons they said were a serious community problem, especially as they relieved themselves in bottles or plastic bags which they also throw out of the windows.
“If you come early in the morning when people are still sleeping you will see the filth. It will be strewn all over. We clean up many times because people on the upper floors throw out other rubbish out of the window,” said Chomuremba.
She said washing dishes in the communal sink was a big no no because some people disposed of their human excreta in there.
Tadiwa Madinga said she was also worried about children playing with used condoms.
“They pick them up and blow them like ballons and some wear them like gloves. It is not right, people should learn to dispose of their business privately,” Madinga said.
An older woman, Maud Mandishona, who has lived at the flats since the 1970s is disappointed with how council has neglected them.
“Back then these flats were our pride and joy. They were squeaky clean. Supervisors would move around educating people on hygiene. If you failed to conform they would chuck you out,” she recalls.
Precious Shumba of the Harare Residents Trust said the overcrowding at Mbare flats was a health time bomb.
“Typhoid will spread across the Harare Metropolitan Province, risking thousands of people who pass through Mbare or conduct their business there,” he said.