'Where's the water'‚ ask protesters at Zille's official residence
Protesters descended on the official home of Western Cape premier Helen Zille on Monday to collect spring water she offered to share but left with empty buckets.
“Where is the water‚” they chanted as a few droplets fell from a tap they switched on outside the premier’s residence Leeuwenhof.
The protest was advertised under the banner of the Water Crisis Coalition‚ comprising local organisations which blame the city‚ province and national government for the water crisis in Cape Town.
Zille told the provincial legislature in September 2017 that she would welcome Capetonians who wanted to collect water at Leeuwenhof provided it was feasible and purified. She extended the offer on the back of news that more than R90‚000 had been spent installing a water purifier to treat spring water at Leeuwenhof.
A small group of residents arrived to take up that offer on Monday but left empty handed when the slow running tap produced a small amount of yellow water.
Water Crisis coalition member Shaheed Mohammed said that the water purification system that was installed should be available to all ratepayers.
“We want this spring to be open 24 hours. There are 70 springs across the city and we ask that they open them all. This is to do with the right to water for all‚” he said.
“This is an insult to us. We have come to reclaim the water.”
Zille’s office‚ however‚ poured cold water on the outcry in a statement on Monday‚ explaining that the purification system was clogged with silt.
“The ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs has called on ANC members to go and collect water from the stream that runs through Leeuwenhof‚” it read.
“There is a tap near the security gate at the Leeuwenhof Estate that supplies non-potable water. The pressure is low because of the drought. The stream off the mountain‚ which feeds this water source‚ often is low‚ or even dry‚ in summer.”
It said members of the public were welcome to fill bottles of non-potable water from the tap‚ provided there was enough pressure.
“To be clear‚ the water available near the gate cannot be compared with the water from Newlands spring‚ for example. It is polluted water that cannot be used for drinking purposes.
“The purifier used to clean it is currently clogged with silt as a result of the reduction in water flow and an increased ratio of silt to water in the stream‚” said the premier’s office.
Protesters took the opportunity to vent about water management devices being installed in the suburbs.
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Tafelsig activist Sulyman Stellenboom said: “We are not guinea pigs. Do what you do here in our areas also. Mitchell’s Plain is flooded with water management devices. Khayelitsha is flooded with the water management devices. The management of the water in the city must go and the water must flow.” Faldiela De Vries‚ from Manenberg‚ asked: “How does the city who is supposed to enforce legality and be a law enforcing institution‚ how do they now force this meter onto us and then expect us to pay R4‚000 for something which I know is rubbish?”
Dam levels in the Western Cape were at 22.6% on Monday. At the same time last year they were at 34.7%.