SJC's Social Audit into Cape Town's Sanitation Service: Video and Findings

Janitorial Service Social Audit Report Launch
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Janitorial Service Social Audit Report Launch

Today, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU) release the report of the social audit on janitorial services for shared communal flush toilets in Khayelitsha.

The social audit findings are dire. Despite costing the public almost R60 million, and having the potential for a major impact on the lives of informal settlement residents, the City of Cape Town is failing on the janitorial service. Those living in informal settlements are being left without access to safe and dignified toilets, workers face life threatening risks, and public money is being wasted. 

Despite a litany of commitments from Mayor de Lille herself since 2012 to produce an implementation plan for the janitorial service, the City’s Utilities Directorate has repeatedly failed to uphold these commitments. As Mayor de Lille has at several times acknowledged, an implementation plan will ensure effective implementation, management and monitoring of the janitorial service – a service responsible for the cleaning and basic maintenance of shared communal flush toilets in Cape Town’s informal settlements. Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, MAYCO member for Utility Services, confirmed to the SJC on 11 July 2014 that a draft implementation plan existed. However Councilllor Sonnenberg has to date not released any such plan publicly, notwithstanding the Mayor’s commitments to do so. Due to the lack of a plan, the service has been haphazard, poorly implemented, and regularly ineffective. Janitors are often forced to clean toilets without inoculation against disease, protective clothing, equipment or training. Communities have not been consulted and believe that the service is not operating effectively, and residents who rely on these communal toilets are left with broken and unusable facilities.

Key findings detailed in the social audit report show that:

  • One in four flush toilets audited was not working
  • Only one in eight janitors was inoculated against disease as required by City janitorial service documents
  • Almost half of the toilets inspected were either dirty or very dirty inside
  • Janitors do not have the required cleaning equipment
  • Janitors are not receiving the required training as required by City janitorial service documents
  • Janitors do not receive the required Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) as required by City janitorial service documents.
  • A third of residents say that janitors clean their toilet only one day per week
  • Roughly half of residents are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the janitorial service

Hundreds of thousands of people make use of communal flush toilets on a daily basis. Every day the rights to life, equality, dignity, and safety of informal settlement residents and workers are being violated. The City must urgently uphold its commitments and meet its obligations.

The report was brought to the attention of National Parliament by Minister Jeremy Cronin. See his motion without notice here

Watch the social audit into sanitation:

Short Version

Long Version

Read the full social audit report

The social audit called for the city to:
1. Take immediate remedial action on the janitorial service ensuring that:

  • All janitors receive the required PPE, tools and equipment
  • All janitors are inoculated
  • All toilets in the four areas are repaired so that they are in a proper working

2. Within 4 weeks, complete and release the janitorial service implementation plan;

3. Immediately release a timeline with details on how the City will implement the recommendations of the SAHRC sanitation report of 9 July 2014;

4. Immediately release a timeline for the development of a plan for sanitation delivery in Cape Town’s informal settlements, with provisions for the monitoring and maintenance of existing facilities and delivery of new services.


What is a social audit?

Millions of people across South Africa still do not have access to adequate basic services and are not able to meaningfully participate in service delivery. A social audit is a globally recognised tool that enables and encourages community participation and monitoring of government service delivery and expenditure. The process allows communities to understand, measure, verify, report and ultimately improve government performance. A social audit is a civil society driven process and encourages community participation for monitoring government service delivery and expenditure. Social audits began in India more than 20 years ago; since then they have been used as an important tool for enhancing grassroots participation and monitoring the accountability of government spending. The social audit report provides a detailed outline of social audits, the way in which we have developed them in South Africa, and what the process and method entails.

The janitorial service social audit

Between 14 and 19 July 2014 the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU), residents of Khayelitsha, and partners from around the country, undertook a week-long social audit on the janitorial service for communal flush toilets in four informal settlements in Khayelitsha, specifically PJS, Nkanini, BM and BT. It entailed comprehensive inspections of 528 flush toilets and nearly 200 interviews with residents who use the facilities and janitors who clean the toilets. More than 80 people, representing a number of civil society organisations from across the country participated in the audit. Participants then presented their evidence and community members gave testimonies of their experiences of this service. Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg, MAYCO Member for Utility Services and Gisela Kaiser, Executive Director for Utility Services, were respondents for the City of Cape Town. Western Cape Premier Helen Zille as well as several members of local, provincial and national government attended the hearing as guests. The results were consolidated into a report, which was released today.

The City of Cape Town’s janitorial service

The janitorial service was established by the City of Cape Town in 2012 following sustained advocacy from the SJC for such a service to be put in place. It is implemented in terms of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The SJC welcomed the service, which could go a long way to improving access to basic sanitation in Cape Town if implemented effectively. Over a period of more than two years, the City repeatedly failed to uphold its commitments to develop an implementation plan for the janitorial service. On 11 September 2013, 21 SJC activists and supporters were arrested following a peaceful and organised act of civil disobedience outside the offices of Mayor de Lille due to the ongoing refusal of the City and the Mayor to follow through on these commitments.

On 27 March 2014, the SJC welcomed the City’s renewed commitment to developing an implementation plan for the janitorial service. It called on the City to honour its obligations and produce the plan through adequate engagement with janitors and affected communities within the agreed timeframe of three months from March 2014, and offered to support the process of developing that plan.

Four months later, on 11 July 2014, Councillor Sonnenberg again stated that an implementation plan was being developed and that a draft plan was in existence. To date, that plan has not been released. The timeline in the social audit report details the extensive engagement by the SJC with the City over the past three years.


For comment, please contact:

Axolile Notywala, Imali Yethu Project Manager
074 386 1584 /
Dustin Kramer, Deputy General Secretary
083 674 0552 /
The full social audit report and photographs are available at: