Public Protector steps in to help families get running water five years after taps run dry

Public Protector steps in to help families get running water five years after taps run dry

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane during the Indigenous and Traditional Leaders Indaba held on May 29, 2017 at Birchwood hotel in Boksburg. Picture: Gallo Images

This after Busisiwe Mkhwebane was approached in May to intervene after their taps ran dry when a road construction project damaged the underground pipework supplying their homesteads.

After five years without running water, seven Limpopo homes have been reconnected to the municipal water supply network. One of the residents is a 72-year-old woman who was forced to use her old-age grant to buy water from other villagers, the Office of the Public Protector said on Monday.

This, after Thivhudziswi Lukoto from Ngwenani Yaha Themeli in Thohoyandou approached Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in May to intervene after their taps ran dry when a road construction project damaged the underground pipework supplying their homesteads, spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said.

“In a written complaint, Lukoto said his mother often had to push a wheelbarrow in search of water. He added six other families in her neighbourhood had been affected,” he said.

“According to Lukoto, road construction workers cut the water pipeline supplying the section of the village occupied by his mother and neighbours. He tried in vain to have the problem resolved.”

According to Segalwe, this included several meetings with Vhembe District Municipality officials.

In its response to the Public Protector’s queries, the municipality said water was only supplied to the village at a basic level and there were no taps in the residents’ yards.

An inspection in loco, however, found each household had a tap and meter legally connected by the former Venda administration, Segalwe confirmed.

“A settlement agreement, the terms of which included the restoration of the water supply to the affected households within a month, was signed by Lukoto and representatives of the municipality, with the PP (Public Protector) mediating,” he said.

Lukuto confirmed to Mkhwebane’s office all seven households had access to water now.

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