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Fears of eco disaster

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“The doctor took a sample of the water from Electro Park and sent it away for further testing as it is believed that she may have caught the infection from the water. He is still waiting for the results of the test.”

HEALTH HAZARD: Tshiamo Stanley, 4, walks barefoot near water filled with raw sewage in the streets of Electro Park where the drains are overflowing with sewage. Picture: Soraya Crowie

CONCERNS have been raised of a pending ecological disaster in Kimberley, while a two-year-old city girl faces a month-long stay in hospital after she apparently came into contact with contaminated water in Electro Park.

Shekeenah Roos, who spent her second birthday in Mediclinic Kimberley on Friday, is battling not only various infections, which are believed to have affected her intestines, but also sores in and around her mouth.

According to Shekeenah’s mother, Landi Roos, the little girl has been battling with an upset stomach for weeks.

“We have been visiting my mother in Electro Park for some time now. There is a lot of sewage water lying all around us as the drains are overflowing. There is also a puddle filled with green algae. As children are, they don’t like being confined to the house and enjoy running around and playing outside. During the last while, Shekeenah has had very loose stools. I was trying to treat it with medicine from the pharmacy but it got progressively worse. Eventually I took her to the hospital,” Roos said.

By this time, Shekeenah had also developed sores in and around her mouth.

Roos said that after a doctor had tested a sample of Shekeenah’s stool, he diagnosed a “dangerous” infection in her whole body that had spread to her intestines, necessitating the month-long stay in hospital.

“The doctor took a sample of the water from Electro Park and sent it away for further testing as it is believed that she may have caught the infection from the water. He is still waiting for the results of the test.”

Several parents in Electro Park believe that their children have also been affected by the water.

One child is recovering from sores on her body, while others are dealing with sores in their mouths.

Yesterday, more children started presenting symptoms similar to Shekeenah’s and will be seeing a doctor today.

Not only are the children suffering the effects from what appears to be a major sewage problem, but so too are the elderly residents.

“My chest is constantly closing up. I can’t even open my back door as the stench permeating from the overflowing drains is unbearable,” one elderly resident said.

Residents in Electro Park, who still live in asbestos houses, explained yesterday that they rented their houses from Transnet, which also provides basic services.

“We pay different amounts, but our rent includes basic services such as the pumping out of sewage from the French drains. We contact the offices in Kimberley and Bloemfontein on a daily basis, begging them to come and sort out the overflowing sewage drains. Every day we get a promise but nothing happens. Must one of our children die before they do anything?” Shekeena’s grandmother, Lena, wanted to know.

Another resident, Lawrence Segwaga, said that his father had died recently. “I contacted Transnet to please come and do something about the situation as I did not want those attending the funeral to pick up any germs. They promised they would come I was left embarrassed. My neighbours didn’t want to come to the funeral as they did not want to eat food that was being served with the foul smell hanging in the air.”

Segwaga added that it was also difficult for him to make use of his toilet at home. “When I pull the chain after doing my business, the faeces just rises to the top and spills over onto my bathroom floor. What do these people think of us? We are human beings, not pigs, and we demand to be treated like human beings.”

Transnet said yesterday that it has appointed service providers to investigate and urgently address issues raised by the residents in Electro Park.