SQUATTERS in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, have vowed to continue with their violent protests until officials stop treating their area as a forgotten wasteland.
The stench of rotting garbage, sewage and human waste permeate the Mkhathili informal settlement. Rocks, logs and burnt tyres still littered the unpaved streets since police quelled a violent protest yesterday against poor service delivery.
Squatters and residents of the nearby hostels were demanding basic services such as water, electricity and toilets.
"We voted for a better life, not a worse life. We live like pigs," said Thoko Mzolo. "I have to relieve myself in the bush at night because we don't have toilets."
She said Mkhathili is overrun by fearless rats.
"We sleep with them, eat with them and they even steal from our pots. They have wrecked most of my few belongings," she said.
A stream of sewage flows two metres from her shack.
She joined hundreds of neighbours from Empilisweni, Mkhathili and Thokoza hostels in the protest, which police ended with a fusillade of rubber bullets when the mob tried to blockade Khumalo and Serame streets.
"The march started at 4.30am," said Captain Mega Ndobe. "A number of cars were damaged. We had to fire rubber bullets and arrested 17 people for public violence."
Community leader Sipho Duma said the lack of communication between residents and councillors was one of their complaints.
He accused former mayor Duma Nkosi of ignoring their needs since being elected in 2006. He vowed that protests would continue until the residents' needs were met.
Ekurhuleni spokesperson Zweli Dlamini said yesterday the municipality had budgeted R100million for basic services and one toilet for every 10 residents. Another R17million has been allocated for solid waste removal and R17,5million for roads.