Valeska Abreu
2 minute read
15 Oct 2015
7:00 am

Hammanskraal residents protest over ‘contaminated’ water

Valeska Abreu

Residents of Hammanskraal have taken to the streets to demand better quality drinking water, but the municipal authorities are adamant there is nothing wrong with it.

DA members sing protest songs during a demonstration outside the Tshwane Municipal building in Hammanskraal, 14 October 2015. Picture: Refilwe Modise

About 50 members of the community demonstrated outside the City of Tshwane’s municipal offices in Themba yesterday calling for the city to heed to their demands for “basic human rights”.

Residents said water flowing from their taps was of such bad quality it was often contaminated with bacteria. They claimed the water had a mouldy smell, at times had worms in it and, when boiled, it formed a layer of foam. It has also been claimed the water has made some people, including children, ill.

City spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the water complied with the microbiological requirements, in line with South African national standards (Sans).

“Water is tested at Tshwane Water Laboratories according to Sans 241: 2015 and the laboratories are registered with national department of water and sanitation blue drop system. We are participating in the SA Bureau of Standards water check proficiency testing scheme and National Laboratory Associations’ (NLA) water micro proficiency testing scheme,” said Mashigo.

The City of Tshwane (CoT) has been given 30 days to report back to residents about the progress made addressing issues stipulated in a memorandum of grievances handed over yesterday. DA mayoral candidate for Tshwane Solly Msimanga led the demonstrations yesterday, calling the city a disgrace for not improving the quality of water and explaining to residents it was fine for human consumption.

“They mayor is saying this water is fine, so then he must come here and drink it. Don’t drink bottled water or water from the purification centre.

“It’s unacceptable that residents have to drink contaminated water that threatens their health, or not have water at all.” Msimanga also slammed the city for “wasteful expenditure” by issuing tenders to fix the water infrastructure once it was beyond repair, rather than spending money on proper maintenance.

“A recent municipal presentation on water treatment plants states there is a 65% vacancy rate at the Themba water treatment plant. They must fill the vacancies in general and the maintenance unit specifically.

“It’s not that the city doesn’t have the money, because they do.” Mashigo said the vacancy rate was not the only measure used to evaluate the impact of service delivery in the city.

“The fact that vacancies exist does not mean the service delivery commitment is neglected. The CoT ensures that service delivery is prioritised. Critical positions that will enhance service delivery are prioritised and filled as soon as possible,” said Mashigo.