Source of toxic Bloemhof water found

Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Escherichia coli (E.coli) was confirmed as being the source of the recent tap water contamination in the Bloemhof municipality in the North West, which resulted in the deaths of three babies.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed that preliminary reports had indicated that the bacteria was responsible for the deaths and over 500 other people that had been affected after consuming the water.

“Although the number of diarrhoea cases overall has begun to decline, there are still more cases than usual being reported, indicating that the outbreak is not over,” the institute said in a statement.

“Considering the nature of the diarrhoeal disease, the specific types of E.coli and viruses detected in ill persons, and the extent of the outbreak in the affected community, contaminated drinking water is the likely source of the outbreak.”

Despite this, the water and sanitation department yesterday said it had not yet received the final report confirming the source of the contamination.

Water samples had been collected and submitted for testing to independent laboratories by municipality and health officials.

DA shadow minister of health Dr Wilmot James urged the North West health department to urgently release the final report on the contaminated water.

“Questions must be asked as to why this has not happened. Indeed, the urgent action that is needed to correct this situation cannot be pursued until such stage as the problem has been properly identified,” said James.

“Should the release of this report not happen urgently, I will have no choice but to submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.”

The contamination was reportedly caused when sewerage spilled into the Vaal River which supplies water to the region.

A spate of violent protests, linked to service delivery, rocked the area recently, with residents calling for action to be taken.

Action came in the form of the ANC recalling Lekwa Teemane mayor Rebecca Makodi.

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo’s spokesperson Sam Mokaila said Makodi’s dismissal was a decision taken by the ANC, not the provincial government.

Mahumapelo said more than R20 million had been set aside to address water problems in the area.

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