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Bucket toilet. File photo
  • The number of municipal-provided bucket toilets in South Africa declined slightly to 42,400 in 2019. 
  • But despite vows from government to eradicate the bucket system completely, the number of bucket toilets increased in the North West and the Free State. 
  • The Free State - with less than 5% of SA's population - has half of all the bucket toilets in the country. 
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The latest Statistics South Africa municipal census shows that while there was a slight drop in the number of municipal-supplied bucket toilets in South Africa between 2018 and 2019, more than 42,400 of these units are still in use.

And the number of bucket toilets grew in the North West and the Free State, the latest report shows. The Free State - with less than 5% of SA's population - has half of all the bucket toilets in the country. 

Ditsobotla municipality in North West and Nketoana municipality in Free State recorded the largest percentage increases, Stats SA reported.

Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo did not supply any bucket toilets in 2019. While one Free State municipality, Mantsopa, managed to eradicate all the bucket toilets that it had provided to households, 11 municipalities in the Free State provided almost 21,000 bucket toilets.

The latest auditor-general report about municipal finances paints a disturbing picture of mismanagement in Free State local government, with R1.4 billion in irregular expenditure in a single year.

Almost half of the municipalities in the Free State did not account for the manner in which they used taxpayers' money in the year of review, or did it so poorly that their financial statements cannot be trusted, the report found.

In 2006, former president Thabo Mbeki vowed to eradicate the bucket toilet system within a year. More than twelve years later, in June 2019, Lindiwe Sisulu, minister of human settlements, water and sanitation, vowed to get rid of the bucket system within six months.

The total number of bucket toilets has declined from more than 100,600 in 2013.

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