"The prison can accommodate up to 150 inmates and the situation is becoming unbearable.”
THE BARKLY West Residents Association is in the process of opening a case with the Human Rights Commission because of the sewage crisis at the Dikgatlong Municipality.
The Barkly West Primary School in De Beershoogte was apparently closed down by the Department of Labour yesterday until further notice, where pools of smelly, raw sewage surround the school.
The Department of Labour could not be reached for comment.
Members of the association added that they were being ridiculed and attacked in their attempts to have the municipality placed under administration.
It added that the Department of Correctional Services’ drains were not being pumped where inmates now had to be locked inside their cells at 5pm.
“Prisoners are only released the following morning at 6am.
“The stench of the drains is overwhelming and are blocked. The toilets are overflowing as it cannot be flushed. The prison can accommodate up to 150 inmates and the situation is becoming unbearable.”
Protest action continued in Barkly West yesterday as residents stated that, despite claims from the municipality that the sewage problem had been fixed, the drains were still bubbling over.
Independent councillor Mently Bezuidenhout said that educators and pupils gathered at one section of the school at Barkly West Primary yesterday and were later dismissed.
“No contractor has been on site. Any attempt to solve the problem do not last and it is back to square one.
“Children cannot be exposed to these unhygienic conditions. The principal has complained about this problem since June.”
Residents feared that loadshedding would be implemented again in the near future as the municipality’s coffers are empty.
“While it is classified as a grade 2 municipality, officials are being paid grade 5 salaries.”
Spokesperson for the Department of Education, Lehume Ntuane, said that a meeting to address the spillage at Barkly West Primary was disrupted on Monday by protestors.
“We have offered to provide the school with three pipes to alleviate the pressure on the single pump that is struggling to process the high volumes of sewage. It will also be possible to install septic tanks at the school that can be emptied by the municipality.
“However the municipality is in the process of finalising the issue.”
He added that it was a concern if pupils were not attending classes.
“It is not conducive to learning if they are being exposed to these health risks. Another option would be to provide an alternative venue for pupils in critical grades, until a lasting solution is found. Classes must resume as it is the last quarter and pupils need to write their year-end exams.”
Ntuane stated that attendance had dropped slightly yesterday compared to the start of the school term.
“About half of the number of pupils were in attendance yesterday while only two educators were not present as they are on leave.”
He was confident that a permanent solution would be arrived at by next week.
Spokesperson for the Office of the Premier Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams said Premier Sylvia Lucas would provide feedback to the Dikgatlong community along with the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Bentley Vass, today.
“A time has yet to be arranged. The Premier listened to the community and made a commitment to discuss Dikgatlong’s issues at an inter-governmental level.”