Tsakane community grinds to halt after water shortage

27 September 2014 - 16:24 By Sapa
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Residents of Tsakane in Brakpan, Ekurhuleni, said on Saturday that their lives had ground to a halt after being without water for two weeks.

"If you don't have water, you can't do anything," said Sibongile Mthethwa who lives in ward 84 in the township.

She said she goes to her family in a different area to wash and collect water.

The residents spoke to Sapa during a visit by Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, who went to the area to show his solidarity with their plight.

Another Tsakane resident, Victor Lukhele said children had stopped going to school.

Water tanks did not come regularly enough to the area and when they did, the tanks were empty within an hour.

"The worst thing is that no-one informed us [that] we won't have water. At least [the] town council could inform us, but it's silent; no one cares," he said.

Gary Scallan, DA chairman for the Tsakane/Brakpan area, said there were not enough water tankers on the ground and that residents were not informed where the water tankers would be located.

Maimane, with around 25 Tsakane residents and DA members, danced, clapped and sang outside Tsakane Mall.

"Zuma thupa e etla [President Jacob Zuma, a whipping is coming]," they sang in Sotho.

The group walked through the taxi rank and mall parking collecting signatures for a petition that demands that various national government departments investigate the reasons for the widespread water outages.

The petition gained over 200 signatures on Saturday.

"It's a serious issue this water crisis in Gauteng," Maimane said; adding that it was concerning because Gauteng was an economic hub.

"It's quite surprising that the premier here anticipated the water problem and did nothing about it.

"There was a report that said there was a water shortage looming due to wastage."

He accused Water Affairs Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, of "running away" from the water issue and not providing answers.

The Ekurhuleni Municipality urgently needed to address the crisis.

"With local government elections coming up, if you vote them [the ANC] back, you're voting for water shortages," Maimane said.

"You can't invest in other infrastructure, like roads, and not have water infrastructure. It's bizarre."

Rand Water lost 30 percent of its water supply due to broken infrastructure - before it even got to consumers, he said.

Gauteng has been hit by a water shortage - allegedly due to the theft of electrical cables needed for the reservoirs to pump water. The shortage has affected parts of Ekurhuleni, the West Rand, Johannesburg and Tshwane.

On Saturday, Rand Water said that water should be restored to all parts of Gauteng within two weeks. However, it added that the meeting of this deadline could be compromised by possible power outages.

"Two weeks is a reasonable time for reservoirs to be stabilised," spokesman Justice Mohale said.

"Two weeks should be sufficient if there are no unexpected power outages."

The Saturday Star reported that Mokonyane said on Friday that infrastructure quality was a key problem.

"You have to actually appreciate the challenges that have to do with the quality of your infrastructure -- there are huge water demands that go with this," she was quoted as saying.

Mokonyane cautioned against risks that were beyond the government's control, which included climate change.

As Rand Water and [the] government frantically try to restore water supply - residents should brace themselves for "load shifting", she said.

This process would see communities which have been without water getting a supply at fixed intervals until the full water supply returned to normal.

She said that areas not receiving water during the "shifts" would be provided with water tankers.