WATCH | Is a blind eye being turned to car washing in Cape Town?

24 January 2018 - 17:48 By Petru Saal
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Resident Gershwin Williams took a drive around Cape Town and surrounding areas on Tuesday, January 23 2018 to showcase how much water is wasted in the metro which is currently experiencing a severe water shortage. Credit: Gershwin Williams

A video depicting minibus taxis‚ cars and bakkies being washed with copious amounts of water at an informal settlement has provoked furious debate in Cape Town.

It was shot by “Gershwin” who described himself as the creator of “some silly‚ funny‚ sometimes serious vids‚ highlighting the beauty and awesome place that we live in” and was uploaded on his Facebook page.

It starts with drone footage of the Mother City‚ showing the beaches and buildings. “The City of Cape‚ the first ever major city to run out of water. Once our dam levels reach 13.5% the government will turn off our water‚” is the opening line.

“How informed are our citizens? Or are they just negligent? Or do they choose to not care. Do we now as citizens who have saved water have to suffer because of those who never took it upon themselves to save water‚” he asked.

“Why is water still being wasted despite all the campaigns enforced by the government. It is a scary thought to think that a beautiful city like Cape Town will soon be running dry on water. People will be queuing in lines for water‚ only 39% of us are saving and the other 61% is blatantly wasting the water.”

The video touched a nerve‚ as it prompted city authorities to explain why they were clamping down on water wasted in the suburbs but ostensibly not doing the same in townships or informal settlements.

The city has previously explained that only a fraction of total water consumption occurs in informal areas – where residents have for years not had formal toilets‚ big gardens and have shared communal taps.

There were howls of outrage and several calls for some sober perspective in the comments that followed. The video had been watched more than 215‚000 times within 20 hours of being posted.

Emma Maria Vink‚ in reaction‚ posted: “This is incredibly racially problematic. Water infrastructure and access is the worst in informal settlements and the bulk of water use comes from established residential areas. Let's stop distracting ourselves by deepening racial divides and deal with reality please.”

“Please go into these settlements and investigate how a family manages on a 40 litre per day ration‚ as they have been for many years‚” wrote Marion Allan Orpen.

Daniele Michelini’s response was: “Anybody driving around with a clean car MUST be stopped by the police and questioned. The honest ones will say and prove that they either used recycled water or went to a waterless washing station. The water wasters to be charged for crimes against humanity.”

Ingrid van der Spuy said: “Yes it's their only source of income and think sometimes we don't understand how the less affluent struggle to make ends meet BUT please at least use buckets and not a hose. Saw this today too when passing through Delft‚ Wallacedene and Bloekombos!!”

Thozama Congolose Gaba Ngaye asked‚ “Why r u only filming on black areas only? What about those gardens in constantia?”

The creator of the video said that this would be the first in a series of videos on water wasters. He plans to visit other suburbs in the city.

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