Nineteen families with 30 children are living on a farm in the Komga district without any drinking water.
Their only source of water, a nearby dam, dried up two months ago.
Saturday Dispatch visited the people of Carlton Farm on Thursday and heard how the children were unable to go to school because they could not wash.
They also claim their pleas to the Great-Kei municipality for water are being ignored.
The 400ha piece of land they live on was bought by the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in 2011 for R3.5-million from Roger Kriel and given to the farmworkers to run as a co-operative.
They have managed to survive thanks to the owner of Blue River store, Neil Aereboe, 52, who supplies them with free borehole water every second day.
The dwellers, who are all shareholders of the co-operative, stopped planting mealies in December following the devastating drought that hit the Amathole district municipality (ADM) region.
Aereboe told Saturday Dispatch: “I started giving the people water because it is what humans do when others are in need.”
Aereboe gives the farm dwellers more than a thousand litres of water every second day, so they can drink and give some to their animals.
“My dams are dry too but thanks to the underground water I still have something. I feel that if the authorities cannot help my neighbours then I should step in.”
The farm dwellers were seen drawing water for laundry from a disused borehole which had foul-smelling water.
Sanandini Xesha, 52, said: “We can’t take a bath and my children cannot go to school because they were send home by teachers for being unhygienic and it was feared they were spreading infections.
“We have stopped planting due to the drought and no one is helping us to get our co-operative off the ground again,” Xesha said.
He said the co-operative was promised disaster funding when the ADM declared a drought disaster in the area in February.
Nonkululeko Kosana, 50, said she was born and grew up on the farm but had never experienced such water scarcity.
“The drought has not only taken its toll on us but on the animals as well. Our cattle are being impounded by a neighbouring farmer because they eat his spinach and crops.”
Thenjiwe Madyomfela, 39, said she called the ward councillor several times in vain and accused him of last visiting the area when he was campaigning for election ahead of August 3 elections.
“I called him again yesterday and he told me he was waiting to have a meeting with the ADM manager.
“We even raised our plight during a big meeting attended by social development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi and deputy minister of Water and Sanitation Pamela Tshwete at Dreibosch farm last year where they promised to assist us but we are still waiting.”
The Dispatch sent questions to all the relevant government departments about the situations but no responses were received.
Questions to rural development agrarian reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane and to ADM spokeswoman Nonceba Madikizela also went unanswered — firstname.lastname@example.org