'We lock our doors to keep the stench away'
Residents of Thembelihle in Vrede, Free State, have lost hope that the Phumelela local municipality would fix manholes leaking sewage waste into their yards.
Some manholes in the area are covered with large rocks to avoid them from leaking or bursting open. Some manholes in their yards have been leaking for a long time, residents said.
Thabisile Tshabalala said the manhole in her parental yard had been leaking for a year now.
"We don't know what to do. We always lock our doors to prevent our children from going out and the smell from coming in," she said.
Her neighbour Phindile Tsotetsi said the waste flowed into her house.
"You can see how wet our yard is. The manhole is in front of our kitchen door. When it is worse, it just flows into the house," said Tsotetsi.
Elizabeth Mokoena lives two houses from there. A manhole in her yard has burst open - allegedly years ago - and her husband has dug a trench to allow the waste to flow on to the street.
"Since he made a trench last month, it is better. My yard and house were flooded and the stench was unbearable. We can't eat and cook when the stench is at its worst. Young children play near the manhole and I am worried about their health," said Mokoena.
The Free State department of cooperative governance, traditional affairs and human settlements failed to respond to enquiries.