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Mandela family footed the bill for Qunu borehole: Senzo Mchunu

15 December 2021 - 20:26
People in Mvezo, Nelson Mandela's birth place, walk to the Mbhashe river to wash their clothes. The village has never had running water and depends on the river or rain water.
People in Mvezo, Nelson Mandela's birth place, walk to the Mbhashe river to wash their clothes. The village has never had running water and depends on the river or rain water.
Image: Lulamile Feni

Former president Nelson Mandela's family donated the borehole that supplies water to Lwalweni village in Qunu, but this created a complication that led to the water being temporarily cut off earlier this year.

Water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu said an electric pump was used to supply water to the village from the borehole and the account for this was in the name of the Mandela family.

During a process to resolve the billing issue the electricity for the pump was disconnected, which left the village cut off.

It emerged last month that some Qunu residents were forced to drink from a contaminated water source shared with livestock. GroundUp reported that villagers in Nelson Mandela’s birthplace had been without tap water for eight months because the OR Tambo district municipality failed to pay Eskom and to fix a faulty valve on its water reservoir.

The billing issue had been sorted and the water supply restored, according to Mchunu, who was responding to a written question in parliament.

EFF MP Mathibe Rebecca Mohlala wanted to know what measures were being taken to resolve the problem.

Mchunu said the Qunu administrative area had five sub-villages with 957 households and a population of 4,116 people.

All the villages had stand-alone schemes with groundwater as the source.

Lwalweni was serviced by the “Qunu Lwalweni Scheme”, which pumped water from a borehole to a reservoir, from where it was distributed to taps spread throughout the village of Qunu.

The borehole servicing this scheme was donated by the Mandela family and, as such, the electricity account was linked to the family accounts.

This had to be corrected as such electricity was disconnected about March 2021 and this is when the water provisioning problems started at Lwalweni village,” said Mchunu.

The OR Tambo municipality implemented an interim solution of water tankers, which was inadequate. During this period the community had to resort to raw water sources to meet their daily demand.

The transfer of the electricity account had since been resolved and the connection was restored.

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