Thabo’s example

City of Cape Town plumber

When we started our conversation the plumber asked me to not mention him on my report writing, I agreed and told him that our talk is confidential. Simphiwe that’s a name we should borrow the plumber for now. As we seated at his family traditional ceremony in November 2015 at his 4 bedroom house with beautiful face-brick and some trees that I forgot to ask which trees they are. I approached him for a long ago to chat about what his thoughts about water demand management devices.  But we could make time and this time around he had some time for me with moments of disturb(s) as they required him for some activities during the ceremony. He came back from being by his wife and Thabo all yours now but we can’t take too much time. I agreed on keeping the conversation short.

We spoke brief about his upbringing he was born in the Eastern Cape in an area called Herschel, what he remembers a lot about the area is the freezing days of winter and hot days of summer, as he looked said and said we laid my father to rest winter and it was very cold Cape Town is nothing compared to that places. He and his friends used to build plastic tents (Isigodi in IsiXhosa) in the open field and surround it with branches of trees to act as a wind breaker. We used to hunt for birds and bush rats to eat and we will collect wood to make fire in our plastic tents, those were the days I must say. Our parents used to hate these tents because they believed we smoke dagga in them hence we built them far from them. Thabo I always wanted to be a doctor as any child but where I stayed it didn’t offer me that opportunity but at early age I was exposed to Pan Africanism as my uncles were firm cadres of PAC. That allowed me to take part in social issues in the community.

Around 1987 his family decided to move to Cape Town to get better opportunities especially for the children. They stayed in a shack in Gugulethu NY 40 at family member backyard, Gugulethu was the best place he ever saw and stayed in as there was too much to do. He made friends in Gugulethu through his PAC uncles as there was many political discussion in the area and he was fascinated to find out that there are many political ideologies out there not only Pan Africanism the he is accustomed to.   

Due to time I had to get some of his thoughts on the matter at hand which was water demand management approaches by the City of Cape Town. Simphiwe is a City of Cape Town employee who is employed as a plumber. It’s been 7 years with the City of Cape Town since I graduated from college. Before the City of Cape Town I was a life policy salesman and I didn’t enjoy the work at all but I had to do it since I had to pay for college. To be a City of Cape Town employee means a lot to me it means I have to work with honesty and professionalism. I learnt a lot from senior plumbers when I was a junior at work it was a great fun to be on call and in the field fixing burst pipes, meters and household leaks but I was I assigned in more affluent suburbs of Cape Town. Water management devices were interesting when we first heard about them. I think in those days Zolile and Linda were the men in charge of them. These man were not that liked by many since were very rude at times but we had to respect them. If ever you chat or discuss with those two men make sure you know your story as they are not that much open to talk.

We as (some) SAMWU members, we rejected the devices after the installation drama in Atlantis (by drama he meant that the devices were not working and they realised that these devices were faulty). He was full aware about the education around the devices but he was not sure how it is undertaken since it’s outsourced in his memory. And speaking of outsourcing he cautioned me that most of these installations are being outsource now. They have nothing to do with them but in some communities we still install them, but higher percentage is outsourced. The response time to a faulty water meter devices is slow because when you log a call it goes to the City of Cape Town and from there straight to the subcontractor. He was full of cautions as he mentioned a new water meter device that is planned to be piloted in Kuyasa Khayelitsha that will be connected to a pole in the street but he will keep me informed about any details. He agreed that they do install it in some rich people’s houses, he made an example of a house in Constantia where they installed a water management device since the home owner couldn’t pay his bill of R 800 000 since he also has a farm in the property. But the installations are not radical like in our areas as black and coloured people’s areas. I think sometimes as people we look at these affluent suburb as white owned also our political leaders stay in those houses hence it’s not easy for the City to be radical.

Yes..! That’s what we also observe is that if you afford you can use as much as you can, that’s wrong we should all save water. No the credit control policy I’ve never heard where it was applicable and I think it’s called Credit Control and Debt collection policy and most of us we do what we are deployed to do as we have to feed our families. Thabo I have to go now it was good chatting and please this discussion was off record. And yes I’m against the water management devices since they don’t work well in most communities and I hope we come up with a better solution.