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Hammanskraal residents despair as water woes endure

05 January 2023

Nothing has changed for Temba, Hammanskraal, residents. When they open their taps all they get is slimy, smelly undrinkable water.

In 2019, the South African Human Rights Commission declared the water in Hammanskraal unsafe for human consumption and the situation has not changed. Clean water is trucked in as an alternative measure but residents complain the service is erratic.

When TimesLIVE visited the area, north of Pretoria, a 58-year-old woman with crutches, standing outside her gate with six 25L buckets, unsure if the water tanker would arrive, said: “We have to run around looking for water. Have pity on us, we have been suffering for a long time for water, we have to wait for the tankers to come.”

“The tap water is very dirty and stinky and you cannot bathe with dirty water. When you open the tap it’s like faeces, it smells bad. Even when you are washing your clothes you have to use a fabric softener because if you don't, you will smell.”

A 27-year-old resident said “we have water because it’s coming out of the tap, but it is not clean. We can’t drink it.

“It’s costing us because we have to buy water to drink, five litres is about R5, and not all families can afford this. There are also pensioners who cannot go to the streets to collect water [from the tankers]. It’s very bad.”

Another resident, a 76-year-old woman, said she was tired of suffering.

“I should have been sitting at home, resting as an old person, but now I have to collect water. We are suffering as residents, we don't have water. It's just water coming from the tap but it's useless. We now have to buy drinking water,” she said.

In 2021, the SAHRC found wastewater treatment plants in Tshwane were malfunctioning and as a result rivers such as the Apies, Tolwane, Pienaar and Hennops and the Roodeplaat and Leeukraal Dams were being polluted with untreated and partially-treated sewage and sludge.

The commission said the crisis of wastewater treatment plants in South Africa should be declared a disaster and also recommended the national government intervene in the running of plants in Tshwane to end water pollution.

City spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the technical skills to fix the problem were available within the metro, but it required R4bn for infrastructure expansion and upgrades.

“The city currently does not have the required funding, and it is for that reason that the city is engaging with alternative infrastructure funders like the Development Bank of South Africa and others to source the required funding,” he said.

The department of water & sanitation has accused the metro of stalling proposed interventions.

“The minister wanted to intervene as directed by the SAHRC in accordance with section 63 of the Water Services Act. The executive mayor of CoT, Randall Williams, through a communication to the minister’s initiative, refused such an intervention and requested an integrated remedial action without employing section 63 of the Water Services Act,” said department spokesperson Wisane Mavasa.

When minister for water and sanitation Senzo Mchunu and then Gauteng premier David Makhura visited the affected community in 2021, Mchunu promised a 5km water pipe would be installed to ensure Hammanskraal residents receive clean drinking water.

But Mavasa said the plans were affected by the city’s reluctance to accept the minister's intervention.

“As a result, there is no notable progress on the matter and the city is still using 60 water tankers to deliver to Temba areas in Hammaskraal at huge cost while on the other hand pleading poverty,” he said.

Source: TimesLIVE

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