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Thirsty residents protest water cuts

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“We can’t go to the veld so we have to wait until we go home to use the bathrooms. If we are thirsty, we suck on bompies (frozen lollies).”

FRUSTRATED: A protest on the R31 yesterday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

WINDSORTON residents said that they are thirsty and dehydrated as a result of constant water interruptions over the past several months.

Protesters yesterday closed down the R31 and set tyres alight between Windsorton and Barkly West out of sheer frustration.

Further service delivery protests will take place in Barkly West and Hartswater today.

“We have water for about 60 minutes each day, at an unannounced hour. For the rest of the day the taps in Windsorton are bone dry. If we are unable to fill buckets when the water goes on, we have no supplies. There are worms in the water and it is dirty when it comes out of the taps,” the protesters said yesterday.

“We are unable to wash our clothes, drink water, cook or bath ourselves and our children. It is dangerous for the elderly, women and children to relieve themselves in the veld but they have no other choice.”

Reakantswe Intermediate School pupils in Windsorton said that they refrained from using the restrooms at the school as they could not flush the toilets.

“We can’t go to the veld so we have to wait until we go home to use the bathrooms. If we are thirsty, we suck on bompies (frozen lollies).”

The school’s JoJo tank has been out of order for some time and buckets of water are used to occasionally flush the toilets.

DJ Jansen Primary School depends on borehole water while the Windsorton Clinic relies on the use of a JoJo tank for its water supply.

Community member Benjamin Ganakomo said that residents had run out of patience.

“The community decided to stand up as ANC members. We will be joining the march to the Dikgatlong municipal offices today. The municipality must account for where all the money has gone. The mayor will leave of her own accord, for failing the community.”

Ganakomo also advised the mayor and a delegation from the municipality that arrived to address the protesters, amidst a strong police presence, that they should remove the contractors off a local water project site for incomplete work.

“The water reticulation, reservoir and stormwater drainage projects have come to an abrupt halt and that is why we have no access to water.”

Residents added that there was no truck to collect the refuse and that the majority of local youths were unemployed.

The ANC chief whip at Dikgatlong Municipality, Eric Makoko, explained that it was only the high-lying areas that were affected by water shortages.

“We will send out water tanks to residents that are without water,” said Makoko.

He indicated that it was the responsibility of the national Department of Water and Sanitation to pay the contractors and not the municipality.

The Dikgatlong municipal manager could not be reached for comment.

A march will start at the Mataleng/De Beershoogte four-way crossing from 8am today, where a memorandum relating to poor service delivery will be handed over at the Dikgatlong municipal office in Barkly West.

Up to 2 000 residents from Longlands, Delportshoop, Barkly West and Windsorton are expected to take part in the protest.

“The Eskom debt has since risen to R66 million and is currently at the legal department – where impending power cuts can be expected. A number of households were disconnected due to non-payment yesterday, so residents are becoming agitated.

“Longlands is expected to pay although they are without water for five days, because of a broken water pipe that has not been attended to for the past two years. Sedibeng Water is not being paid,” residents complained.

They added that the school in Barkly West was once again flooded with raw sewage.

“An old 2016 rescue plan was hurriedly adopted by council, although this does not speak to the current challenges facing the municipality. They did not even bother to change the date of the plan. We will be charging Dikgatlong Municipality for being in contempt of court for failing to implement a recovery and rescue plan so that it can meet its financial obligations.”

The spokesperson for Phokwane Municipality, Kgalalelo Letshabo, confirmed that permission had been granted for a march that will converge in Jan Kempdorp and proceed to the Phokwane municipal offices in Hartswater today.

Among the grievances include the appointment of the municipal manager, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, the lack of recreational facilities, unemployment and electricity cuts

Some community members who support the municipal manager believed that she was coming under attack because she was rooting out corruption and improving service delivery.