Water and Sanitation in Langrug

Overview of Toilet Facilities

Developing and maintaining sanitation services has been a constant effort for the Stellenbosch Municipality. Langrug’s sanitation needs are currently met with a sewage system and flush toilets. These systems serve the two lower sections of the settlement, Nkanini and Mandela Park, where 21 toilet blocks are located. These toilet blocks are diverse and range in both style and size. The third and highest section, Zwelithsa, remains un-serviced.  Residents from this upper area either use toilet facilities in the lower sections or defecate in the bush if they choose not to walk down.  The water pumps that service the lower sections of Langrug have neither the capacity nor the head to be able to reach the high elevation of Zwelithsa. To add sewer lines in Zwelithsa would also exceed the capacity of the existing lines in the settlement, a problem that can only be fixed with reconstruction of the Route 45 sewer connection.

Between November third and November seventh, the team walked through Langrug and analysed each different facility through observation and informal group discussions with Co-researchers and community members. Every community member spoken to was briefed, either by the team if the community member spoke English, or by the co-researchers if they spoke Xhosa, that the group was doing research on toilet facilities in Langrug.  The chart below shows the findings of this analysis. The community members that agreed to be identified by name are listed in the chart along with the number of toilets, taps and basins at the site. Also included is a map showing the locations of each facility. If you click on the icon for a facility, it will bring you to page with pictures and further details on the toilet block that is located there.

For enlarged image, click chart

 For  interactive map that details each facility, click here

Problems with Toilet Blocks

From our analysis, we also discovered many problems with the toilet facilities. These problems are listed below.

Drains and Blockages

Specific details about each toilet block are located under the additional details section of the chart below.  Most of the toilet facilities have drains located near or under the taps.  The drains lead to the sewer but are often clogged with trash. Toilet blockages are also common throughout the settlement and mainly stem from misuse of the facilities.  Residents often flush newspaper and nappies down the toilets, preventing water from being flushed.  Many community members expressed that blockages are a frequent occurrence on weekends, as other residents are intoxicated and neglect to regulate the amount of newspaper they are trying to flush.

The institution of toilet paper would be a big improvement to the toilet facilities in Langrug. This implementation would correct the issue of blockages, but there is always the possibility theft of the toilet paper. To remedy this, a caretaker model could be imposed, and this individual could hand out toilet paper as people came to the facility. Another possible option could be a toilet paper dispenser. The design of such would be that a roll of toilet paper would be inserted into a locked toilet paper holding box, from which the roll could only be removed after it was empty.


Toilets are usually serviced and fixed within the next week by the Pholo-Ka Hola company contracted by the municipality.  Pholo-Ka Hola cleans and services all the public toilets throughout the settlement.  This seven person team is managed by Sefeke, who delegates three workers to maintain the facilities in Nkanini and three to maintain the facilities in Mandela Park.  The seventh worker acts as a repairman and services each facility when there are blockages and problems with the facilities.


Theft of plumbing supplies has also been an ongoing problem with the toilet facilities.  Thieves often steal copper and metal fixtures on the facilities to use or sell.  To counter this, the municipality has begun to replace the copper piping and fittings with plastic parts.  While this has helped to reduce theft, the plastic pipes on the outside of the toilet structure are less durable than metal pipes and fixtures. Children in the settlement regularly play around and climb on toilet facilities.  The children swing and climb on the pipes, causing the plastic pipes to bend and disconnect from the fittings.  When the pipes disconnect water will continuously run from the pipe until the connection is reattached properly.


At night, residents walking to the toilet facilites are in danger of being robbed, beaten, or raped. Those who do not want to risk walking alone can either attempt to assemble a group or keep a bucket in their home to defecate in.