Human settlements, water and sanitation minister, Lindiwe Sisulu announced on Thursday that R220 million would be set aside to address QwaQwa’s “immediate challenges of water availability.”
According to a statement, the announcement was made during Sisulu’s visit to the Free State town earlier this week.
Intense protest action gripped the area on Monday, with hundreds of community members barricading roads with burning tyres and rocks.
This was reportedly due to the death of seven-year-old Mosa Mbele, who drowned while trying to collect bathwater from a local river. A family member alleges that Mosa had flip-flops on and one of her shoes fell in the river. As Mosa attempted to retrieve it, the tragedy happened.
She will be laid to rest on Saturday.
Mosa’s death highlighted the lack of access to water in several parts of QwaQwa, with residents saying that taps have been dry since December. Many parts of the area have been battling water accessibility issues for years.
A poster circulated on social media warning that no one in the area would be allowed to go to work, and that the shutdown would continue until water is restored.
Sitrep @ Phuthaditjhaba: +- 300 members of community barricaded the roads with burning tyres and rock's, situation is tense. If we can have crime prevention members to maintain our key points so that POPS can patrol the whole area and do arrests. @CyrilRamaphosa pic.twitter.com/lE4x3OYoYC
— Isoldé Laesecke (@ILaesecke) January 20, 2020
During a stakeholder meeting, including deputy minister David Mahlobo, Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela and local leadership in the municipality, Sisulu acknowledged that it has taken too long to address the water challenges in the area.
As such, the R220 million will be used to address immediate challenges, in addition to the R280 million allocated to Sedibeng Water.
Sisulu said that the department and Sedibeng Water were also looking into technology that would aid the community in accessing water.
She pledged to provide 5,000 water tankers to the area within seven days, which will also help ease water harvesting issues. The tankers will be provided by Sedibeng Water.
In addition, all boreholes in the area will be equipped, and a committee will be assigned to monitor the execution of the department’s plans, Sisulu said.
Sedibeng Water is also said to conduct a feasibility study to consider a R2.1 billion pipeline to connect QwaQwa with Stekrfontein Dam.
Sisulu vowed return to the area in six weeks to assess the progress made.
(Compiled by Nica Schreuder. Additional reporting by Gopolang Moloko)