Report stolen manhole and stormwater covers

A road in Parkwood flooded because of the blocked drains.

The City of Cape Town is appealing to residents to report missing or stolen manhole and stormwater covers.

Ward 66 councillor William Akim said over the past two months he had noticed that these covers were being stolen and often sold to illegal scrap dealers.

In the past two weeks three people have fallen into uncovered stormwater drains or manholes.

Parkwood resident Veronica Matthews said many of the covers had been stolen in one night.

“There was also an incident where a 12-year-old child fell into the stormwater hole. Luckily he wasn’t injured too badly but he fell feet first into the hole and hurt his back. It could have been so much worse.

“The other issue is what if an elderly person falls into one of these holes. Whoever is stealing these covers doesn’t care about the well-being of the community.”

Dorothy Davids said one of her relatives also fell into one of the holes. “My brother-in law’s 8-year-old son fell into the hole when they were playing and he was taken to the clinic just to check that he was okay after the fall. We then immediately reported it to the councillor and a replace-
ment cover was put on,” said Ms Davids.

Mr Akim said the theft of the manhole covers was a common occurence: “It happens in Parkwood and as well as Ottery and I have been receiving more and more complaints.”

To make matters worse, residents throw stones and other debris in the holes to cover them up to avoid injury but this
then results in the blockage of these drains, which causes flooding.

“In winter when it rains, roads are flooded and that is partially due to the clogged stormwater drains. Not only are people dumping in these systems but also trying to avoid injury by filling them with stones, tires and other things,” said Mr Akim.

Xanthea Limberg, the City of Cape Town’s Mayco member for water and waste, said sewer manhole covers were stolen and replaced on a daily basis across the city.

Last year, she said, more than 1 300 sewer manhole covers were replaced with polymer plastic covers.

“The City is also working to minimise the appeal that theft holds by replacing cast iron covers with ones made of material with little or no scrap value, being polymer plastic and ductile iron, depending on which is appropriate in each case. People who are caught in possession of a manhole cover, are considered to be in possession of stolen property and
they will be arrested,” said Ms Limberg.

She said every day there were about 300 sewer blockages across the city.

“The majority are as a result of residents misusing the sewerage system rather than infrastructure defects or a lack of capacity. No person may discharge substances into a municipal sewer that will interfere with the free flow of sewage. Unfortunately, as long as residents continue to abuse the system, blockages and overflows will continue to occur on a daily basis,” said Ms Limberg.

The City urges residents to report missing sewer manhole covers to the City on 0860 103 089 or 0800 65 64 63.

Residents can also log complaints and report faults by making use of the following platforms:

Email to, SMS to 31373, visiting a walk-in centre, or send a WhatsApp message to 063 407 3699.