Ashburton residents living in a nightmare Caught between a rock and a dry place

2016-04-27 06:00
PHOTO: Ian Carbutt Siyanda Phakathi and Frans Meuwese of Ashburton hold water from the swimming pool that they have to use to flush toilets

PHOTO: Ian Carbutt Siyanda Phakathi and Frans Meuwese of Ashburton hold water from the swimming pool that they have to use to flush toilets

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MORE than 120 Ashburton residents have been living without piped water for years and, since their boreholes have dried up, they have no water at all.

The residents, who live near the Lower Mpushini Valley Conservancy, are caught between the Mkhambathini and Msunduzi municipalities and claim they have been left in the lurch by both.

Representing the 124 residents, an emotional Frans Meuwese said he had numerous meetings with both municipalities since late last year when the drought struck.

“After months of speaking to the different municipalities, we have got nowhere. Representatives from each municipality met to discuss our plight but they refused to include me in the meeting,” said Meuwese.

He said after continuously calling the mayor of Mkhambathini Municipality, Thobekile Maphumulo, he was told last month that a 20 00 litre water tank would be sent to the area. “The water tank is definitely not enough to service all of us. We are 124 residents living across five kilometres of road. Surely this is against the law and our basic human rights,” Meuwese said.

Also, the water tank was never delivered as promised a month ago.

Meuwese has since reported the matter to the Human Rights Commission of South Africa.

The residents said they have reached their wits’ end and have had to borrow and ask neighbours for water.

“The quarry sends a tanker out to us whenever they can and they do this out of the goodness of their hearts. The garage down the road allows us to fill our drums of water and we pay a small fee. Everyone is trying to help but the municipalities,” said Meuwese.

He said that some houses along the five-kilometre stretch were purchased by the land claims commission for those who claimed the land.

“They spent millions to buy these houses for those people who were claiming them, but when the people moved in, they didn’t even stay for longer than a few months. They moved out because there was no water and now the houses are standing empty,” he said.

One of the men maintaining a nearby property that was left stranded by land claimers said he was forced to use water out of the swimming pool.

“It is very difficult to live like this. Where do we go to? Why are people not helping us?” asked Siyanda Phakathi.

The Witness made numerous calls to the office of Mkhambathini mayor Thobekile Maphumulo and to her cellphone, however it was never answered.

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