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Media Statement: The South African Human Rights Commission on the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal

Attention: Editors and Reporters

23 May 2023

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC/Commission) has noted with grave concern the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, North of Pretoria. According to reports, 16 people have so far died as a result of contracting cholera in the area.

The Commission also notes that since Monday 15th May 2023, 95 people are reported to have sought treatment for the diarrhoeal disease in Hammanskraal.  In addition, reports state that positive lab results of the stool specimens of 19 people who presented at Jubilee District Hospital had symptoms of diarrhoea, stomach cramps and nausea.

Following the news of the outbreak, the Commission immediately has engaged both the City of Tshwane (CoT) as well as the Provincial Department of Health to seek a full update on measures being put in place to immediately arrest the outbreak, save lives from this disease and to avoid a large-scale and devastating impact of this disease.

The Commission acknowledges the temporary measures already implemented by both the CoT and the Provincial Department of Health who have warned people in the area not to drink water from the taps, made arrangements for the provision of water tankers, called on and urged people to practice clean hygiene, and facilitated the provision of two additional wards at the local hospital to accommodate patients who could not be immediately admitted on arrival at Jubilee Hospital.

Today, 23 May 2023, the Gauteng Provincial Office of the Commission has undertaken a monitoring visit to Hammanskraal, including the Jubilee Hospital, to meet with key stakeholders and monitor temporary measures put in place to arrest the outbreak. The Commission will further engage the CoT and the Provincial Department of Health on measures being implemented to urgently identify the source of the cholera outbreak.

The Commission would like to remind all spheres of Government that cholera outbreak is not the only water related disease or crisis facing the community of Hammanskraal. In 2018, the community members of Hammanskraal complained to the Commission that they had been receiving dirty and foul-smelling water from their taps and alleged that the water had been contaminated and polluted due to the malfunctioning of the wastewater treatment works (WWTWs) of the City of Tshwane.

Following inspections, the Commission instituted a formal investigation and released a report of the Gauteng Provincial Inquiry into the Sewage Pollution of the City of Tshwane’s Rivers and the Roodeplaat Dam which found that the primary reason for the unacceptable levels of pollution is the failure to manage and maintain existing WWTWs in the City of Tshwane over a prolonged period of time.

Despite the findings and key recommendations of the investigative report, the community of Hammanskraal continues to lack access to drinkable water. Now with the emergence of the cholera outbreak, the community is faced with double threat as they are not able to practice hygiene at their convenience.

The Commission calls on all spheres of Government to join resources to find the source of the outbreak and implement measures to permanently stop it. In addition, government is urged to address the long awaited and much needed solution towards providing the people of Hammanskraal with their Constitutional right to clean drinkable water which will enable them to continuously practice good hygiene.


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission.

Wisani Baloyi – Acting Communications Coordinator Tel: 081 016 8308 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Alucia Sekgathume Tel: 082 689 2364 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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