Residents risk illness drinking water from stream

Residents of Wilo administrative area in Mqanduli are forced to drink water from this stream.
HEALTH RISK: Residents of Wilo administrative area in Mqanduli are forced to drink water from this stream.

Six years after residents in a Mqanduli village suffered cholera because of the poor quality of water from a stagnant stream,  they have been forced to use it again, further exposing themselves to illnesses.

Wilo administrative area villagers say the river that caused the death of some residents is the only source of water in the area, compelling them to continue using it despite it being a health hazard.

Asked why they were not taking precautions like boiling the water or adding bleach before consuming it, villager Christopher Masentse said they were sometimes too thirsty and end up drinking the water without treating it.

However, the OR Tambo district municipality blamed the villagers, saying diesel pumps and boreholes had been vandalised by residents.

Villager Asavela Zagagana, 31, said some residents had succumbed to cholera in 2013.

“We have no choice but to drink this water,” Zagagana said, adding that she had also had cholera in 2013.

“This water is not safe for us to drink, but it’s the only source of water we have .”

She said she walked 2km from her home to the river.

“Every kind of animal drinks here. We don’t even have water tanks because most peopleare unemployed,” she said.

Zagagana said after the 2013 outbreak, the district authority only carted water to them about five times because that was allegedly stopped.

Masentse said the 100-litre drums, dubbed hippos, they use to fetch water with, attracted all kinds of gems while being rolled to and from the stream.

“ We get sick from drinking dirty water when the municipality is supposed to provide us with clean drinking water,” said Masentse.

He said fetching water from the stream posed a danger to women and children who might be raped as it was in an isolated area.

Municipal spokesperson Zimkhita Macingwane blamed villagers.

“The challenge that we are experiencing throughout the district is theft of our diesel pumps and even in this situation, three boreholes and two diesel engines were vandalised and stolen.

“It adds to the already existing challenges of having huge backlog to provide water services to communities,” said Macingwane, adding that they would give villagers water tanks, but only after engaging them about protecting water infrastructure.

Macingwane did not say when and how many tanks they would give residents. She said they had reported the alleged vandalism of their property to the police, but did not provide a case number for independent verification.