S. Africa’s Residents Fling Feces at Government Officers

South Africans opposed to the distribution of portable toilets in impoverished communities have taken their protests to a low: throwing feces at government officials.

Human waste was dumped this month on the legislature in Cape Town and thrown at a bus carrying Helen Zille, leader of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, which governs the Western Cape province. Members of the ruling African National Congress’s Youth League and some residents say the portable toilets being distributed in parts of the city don’t address residents’ demands for clean and safe bathrooms.

“By improving these toilets they are simply improving on apartheid’s legacy,” former ANC councilor Andile Lili told the Johannesburg-based Times newspaper this month, in reference to the system of white-minority rule that ended in 1994.

Human excretions were also thrown at an ANC councilor’s house in Buffalo City, 30 kilometers (19 miles) outside of East London, the Eastern Cape local government said on June 23, according to the South African Press Association. Today, five people were arrested for dumping human waste in the departure lounge at Cape Town International Airport, SAPA said in another report, citing an airport spokeswoman.

“These actions paint a negative picture of our country and make a mockery of South Africa in the eyes of the international community,” the ANC said in an e-mailed statement. “It boggles the mind that these individuals have the audacity to transport human waste in public and private vehicles, negligent and dismissive of the dangers posed.”

Protest Emulation

Residents of a village in the Eastern Cape province were cited today by Johannesburg-based SAFM as saying they were tired of living like pigs and planned to emulate the Western Cape protests. The Eastern Cape is mostly governed by the ANC. Residents of shantytowns also marched in Cape Town today to protest about poor sanitation, Johannesburg’s Eyewitness News reported.

Lili told the Cape Argus newspaper the flinging of feces at government officials and buildings was a “warning” of things to come.

“This particular form of protest is undignified and poses a serious health risk to communities and the protesters themselves,” Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said in a June 13 statement.