South Africa

VISUAL ESSAY : Residents feel let down by Mahikeng municipality after taps run dry

A woman fills her bucket from a trickling tap. The local municipality reported the theft of a 70mm pipe and said they have replaced it with a smaller pipe thus giving off a lower pressure. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Furious residents from Motlhabeng Village, Mahikeng in the North West have been without water for days and have accused the local municipality of not caring about them.

Some residents have boreholes in their yards, while others have taps installed, but a large number rely on water supplies from communal pumps. This has caused great dissatisfaction in the community and now, they are forced to seek water from neighbours with boreholes or walk to nearby villages because their communal taps have little to offer.

25 litre containers stand beside a communal tap in Motlhabeng Village, Mahikeng. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Daily Maverick visited Mahikeng and found several residents waiting to collect water from a tap. The water trickled out and residents complained that it was not fit for drinking. 

Martin Matanye makes his way back home after filling his containers with water. Matanye spent more than an hour waiting for his containers to fill due to low pressure from a single tap that serves a community. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Thapelo Makhwaya, who had waited over an hour for his turn to collect water said, “This water is an issue. There are only three communal taps where we can get water from but for the past four or five days we have been left without any water. Today the water is coming out slowly but it is also dirty and smelly.”

Keamogetse Mogotsi washes dishes in her kitchen. Mogotsi does not have a tap or a borehole in her yard and rely’s on her nephew to collect water for her. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

He is one of many disgruntled residents. “Our municipality is disappointing us. I mean, so long without water? We cannot talk to our ward councillor because he does not listen to us. We have tried to but now we have just given up on talking.”

A woman fills her bucket from a trickling tap. The local municipality reported the theft of a 70mm pipe and said they had replaced it with a smaller pipe thus giving off a lower pressure. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Another resident, Martin Matanye complained, “I am shocked that we have been without any water for so long. Usually, we don’t have water for a few hours but then it comes on. I am unhappy because no one from the municipality has bothered to inform the community about the problem.”

Water trickles  out of a tap as a man washes clothing. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

Letlhohonolo March, communication manager from the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality, blamed the lack of water on vandalism. 

A woman washes clothes while her baby watches. Not all residents have taps installed in their yards and they make use of wheelbarrows to collect water. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

In an email, March said that the local water treatment plant had been vandalised and pump station cables stolen, for a second time, during the week of 18 September 2020. 

“The water treatment plant’s 70mm underground cable was stolen. Therefore, in mediating the situation currently, a smaller cable was fitted to the plant so that water can be temporarily restored while awaiting the correct sized cable, thus limiting the pressure of water,” March said.

Leah Mothusi does her washing. As an aged lady, she feels that communal taps should be located closer to residents homes. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)
Car wash employees sit under a car port as they wait for water to be returned. (Photo: Shiraaz Mohamed)

The technical team was on site to restore water supply and the district would report on the progress to affected communities. DM

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