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‘Defective sewage systems contributing to cholera outbreaks in Gauteng and the Free State’

The civil rights organisation AfriForum is not surprised by the current cholera outbreak in Gauteng and the Free State. For several years, the organisation has been busy with various court applications and strategies regarding the quality of water in the country and the defective sewage system that contribute to it.

AfriForum has filed several court applications in Parys because the water is unfit for human consumption. The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the municipality have therefore been aware of this issue for the past three years already but are not prepared to solve it. The DWS in collaboration with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) intervened in this town but is unwilling to tackle the problem. This is after AfriForum had already provided a workable plan in 2020 to get the water works back up to standard.

Hammanskraal near Pretoria is now suffering from a cholera outbreak. AfriForum has been pursuing a court case against the Tshwane Metro since 2011 because the Rooiwal sewage works are largely nonfunctional and polluting the Apies River. This river flows past the Temba water treatment plant, which supplies the Hammanskraal community with water.

“The big problem is the DWS’s inability to act. They are of the opinion that the municipality should be given another chance or that Cogta should accept responsibility. Unfortunately, the different spheres of government and departments are too afraid to disagree with each other,” says Lambert de Klerk, AfriForum’s Manager for Environmental Affairs.

“The DWS is also not consistent in its actions and decision-making. While this department is trying to solve one town’s water crisis, it wants to fight another town’s water crisis in court. It is clear that there is a political agenda behind it.”

Community members who suspect that the water in their town is contaminated are encouraged to get in touch with AfriForum. AfriForum will carry out the necessary tests to ensure the water is up to standard.

“We attended one of the community meetings in Parys where the municipality must facilitate it and give feedback to the various community organisations. The technical manager could not provide any answers – he also did not know where his staff were who had to attend the meeting. He also admitted that the plan they are now implementing in Parys is the one that AfriForum made available three years ago,” concludes De Klerk.

Read the original article in Afrikaans on AfriForum

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