South Africa

I’m Zandspruit in the rain

By Greg Nicolson 4 December 2012

Johannesburg’s unpredictable weather and torrential rain is a nightmare for the residents of Zandspruit, where shacks still rule the landscape 18 years into democracy. High-density living, poor infrastructure and poverty make the city’s summer storms unbearable. By GREG NICOLSON.

Photo: Residents of the sprawling settlement in Johannesburg’s west complain there has been little development since 1994, while younger informal settlements have seen housing, water and electricity developments. A few hundred RDP houses have been built, but most residents still live in tiny shacks. 

Photo: Most paths and roads in Zandspruit wind wildly between the shacks, with rocks, mud, ruts and temporary stepping stones becoming dangerous when it rains. 

Photo: Esther Masongo, 43, says her toilet has not been emptied by the council contractors in years, and when it rains, the sewerage in some toilets overflows and runs with the rain down the streets. Masongo says she and her six children have to use the bushes as a toilet, a dangerous inconvenience. 

Photo: A group of men sits by a fire inside a house without electricity or running water. When it starts to rain, water wells against the outside walls and spills onto the shack’s floor. 

Photo: A kindergarten teacher slowly navigates water running down a steep, muddy slope as she returns with umbrellas. 

Photo: When the rain comes, parts of Zandspruit lack the infrastructure to channel it off the streets and away from homes. Most people try to stay indoors, but some have no choice but to get wet and muddy. 

Main photo: Many residents complain that there is nothing in Zandspruit to keep youth occupied. One young man enjoys a smoke between the showers. 

Photos by Greg Nicolson/Daily Maverick