Rat infestation in Gauteng Province: lived experiences of kathlehong township residents

Paul Kiprono Chelule*, Ayanda Mbentse

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Rat infestation is a major public health issue globally, and particularly in poor urban communities in South Africa. Rats pose significant threats to residents in the form of disease spread and sustained physical injuries. The dearth of knowledge about the experiences of affected residents may curtail the initiation of rat control programs. This study aimed to explore the lived experiences of rat infestation among residents of Katlehong Township in Gauteng Province. Methods: This was a qualitative research study where data were gathered from selected community participants from Katlehong Township in Gauteng Province. A semi-structured interview guide was used to collect data through in-depth interviews. The interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim, and thematic data analysis was conducted using NVivo12 data processing software. The data were presented in themes and quotations that reflect the views of the participants. Results: Exactly 20 community members aged between 18 and 56 years participated in the study, 80% being females. Over half of the participants were unemployed (60%), inclusive of students. Majority of the participants were either Zulu or Xhosa speakers. Several themes emerged from the data, which included the residents’ experiences of rat infestation, troublesome rats, dirty rats, reasons for rat infestation, and sustained physical injuries. Participants intimated that waste in the environment and overcrowding in homes contributed to rodent infestation. Conclusion: Rat infestation remains a problem that causes severe distress among the residents of Katlehong Township. The experiences reported varied from psychological trauma to bite injuries and destruction of household property. Effective rodent control strategies need to be put in place to manage both the physical and mental risks posed by rat infestation in socially underprivileged communities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11280
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Environment
  • Infestation
  • Rats
  • Township
  • Waste management


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