‘Water crisis’: Polokwane residents threaten to 'shut down' city amid ongoing service delivery issues

04 April 2024 - 07:02
By Phathu Luvhengo
Authorities warned Polokwane residents to stop circulating social media posts calling for a shutdown on Thursday amid a water crisis. File photo.
Image: Chris Van Lennep Authorities warned Polokwane residents to stop circulating social media posts calling for a shutdown on Thursday amid a water crisis. File photo.

Residents of Polokwane, Seshego and surrounding areas have threatened to shut down the Limpopo capital on Thursday. 

Polokwane municipality warned Thursday is a regular working day amid social media posts calling for residents to join a march to force the municipality to deliver basic services to their communities. 

The call comes as several Polokwane townships are experiencing a water shortage crisis.

In a notice on its website, the municipality said it would be on high alert against anticipated disruptions on Thursday. 

“Polokwane municipality has not approved any marches or shutdowns, as no applications were received from protesters. As a result, Thursday is a regular working day.

“All roads and businesses, including shopping centres and schools, are expected to operate during their normal operating hours. Law enforcement will be on high alert to ensure uninterrupted operations,” it said.

Police in the province also warned against dissemination of threats regarding potential shutdowns on social media platforms.

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Thembi Hadebe assured the residents of affected areas such as Seshego, Mankweng, Lebowakgomo and Matlala that police would be closely monitoring developments and were on high alert for any eventualities that may arise on or before Thursday. 

She encouraged to continue with their normal duties without fear of intimidation or attack. 

“Law enforcement agencies are prepared to deal decisively and harshly with any individuals found responsible for instigating or participating in activities to disrupt public order and safety.

“The SAPS will utilise all available resources to maintain law and order and ensure the protection of citizens and property,” she said.

Phuti Molomo from Makweng Taxi Association said they would be ferrying residents taking part in the march. 

“We are not involved in this strike, we are just supporting the community. Because we are also part of the community. We are also not going to participate in that march but we will help transport them from one point to the other,” he said. 

Limpopo South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) spokesperson Mafala Phasha said they were not the organisers of the march but were invited by communities to participate. 

He said despite campaigning for the ANC in the upcoming elections, Sanco is an independent civic organisation whose core mandate is to protect and advance the issues of the community, particularly service delivery issues.

“Community members have organised themselves. The march will speak volumes on its own but there is a serious water crisis,” he said. 

Phasha said it seemed like most of the problems were caused by the municipality using a modus operandi that was not conducive and not inclusive of the communities. 

Phandi said water tankers were deployed in areas where there was water infrastructure. The organisation could not understand why the municipality did not repair the infrastructure already there in some of these communities.

“But if they stop this, certain businessmen and women shall never benefit. It seems the water crisis is a man-made [problem] so that they can appoint a contractor and say we are fixing the problem,” he said.

Asked by TimesLIVE for comment on the water crisis and the issue of water tankers, Polokwane spokesperson Thipa Silala said he was seeking information from officials.