RESIDENTS living along Nelson Mandela Bay’s salt pans are afraid to fall asleep at night because when they do rats "as big as cats” invade their homes and terrorise them.
At their wits’ end, residents have pleaded with the municipality to rid the Salt Lake area of a plague of rats, snakes, mice and frogs which has become worse in recent months.
They say that rats, snakes and frogs have invaded their homes.
While the rats eat their clothes, food and furniture and bite them while they sleep, the snakes are attracted to the area because of the abundance of their prey – the rats.
Catherine Rockman said her son Anver, 5, ended up in hospital after a rat tore a piece of skin from his leg.
"At first he seemed fine but then he started vomiting. He had to be hospitalised. There wasn’t anything wrong with him before the incident. Now he has kidney problems.”
Helen Ingram said the rats and snakes were so "cheeky” no amount of poisons or pesticides could kill them. "The rats have taken over. They come into our homes and roam around in the streets as if they own the place.
"If you see one, you must give way. Throwing stones or hitting them with brooms does not help. They just look at you and go about their business.”
Resident David Davidson said he was tired of living in fear of the vermin. He said residents felt neglected because nothing was being done to ease their plight.
"This is a major health and safety risk. People are afraid to sleep in their own homes. If a rat does not come to bite you, a snake might,” he said.
Kleinskool residents have called on the municipality to permanently rid their area of the infestation.
While the problem has been bad for years, yesterday’s complaints follow the death of Winston Myburgh, who died last week after being bitten by a rat, although doctors said he died of a lung infection.
Residents believe the rat bite was a contributing factor in his death.
"Hospital authorities say one thing, but I am sure the rat bite played a role. Rats are dirty, filthy creatures,” his wife, Caroline, said.
Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron said authorities would investigate the infestation with the help of the city’s environmental health department.