Legal advice sought over North West water

2013-03-01 20:14
A child helps her mother wash clothing in their swimming pool in Rustenburg as parts of the area remain without water. (Deaan Vivier, Beeld)

A child helps her mother wash clothing in their swimming pool in Rustenburg as parts of the area remain without water. (Deaan Vivier, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Water supply problems in the North-West have prompted AfriForum to seek legal advice, the lobby group said on Friday.

"AfriForum will meet with its legal team [Friday] to consider steps that can be taken against persons and institutions that are responsible for various areas in the North-West," provincial organiser Ian Cameron said in a statement.

He said Rustenburg, for example, had been without water for 10 days.

In Lichtenburg, residents and other organisations, including the Chamber of Commerce, had tried "for weeks" to resolve the water problems. Cameron said this should be the district municipality's responsibility.

North-West acting Local Government MEC Paul Sebegoe's spokesprson Dineo Lolokwane said steps were being taken to speed up the resolution of the water problems in Madibeng local municipality.

In Letlhabile, near Brits, residents resorted to public violence during an illegal protest on Tuesday after a water cut at the weekend.

According to the municipality's website, Madibeng translates to "place of water".

Lolokwane said Sebegoe had appointed a rapid response team to address the situation.

On Thursday, the team submitted recommendations to Sebegoe and the mayor.

Sebegoe would meet the community on Sunday morning to discuss the water problem, and residents were urged to attend.

Sebegoe apologised to residents of Cashan Four in Rustenburg on Thursday for the inconvenience caused by the lack of water.

Deputy Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi marked the beginning of water month in a speech delivered at Mukula Village, Limpopo, during the hand over of the Mukula water supply project on Friday.

Mabudahasi said water was a human right.

"It is enshrined in our Constitution that everyone has the right to have access to clean water."

She said government had a "great track record" for delivering this service to the majority of South Africans.

"For many South Africans, under apartheid, the lack of access to water... [was] an outrageous assault on their health, their development, and their dignity."

She commended the Mukula community for not resorting to illegal protests or vandalism.

Earlier, Beeld reported that the water crisis in many towns in North-West and Mpumalanga was a symptom of a complex problem.

Civil engineer and fellow at the CSIR's built environment division Kevin Wall, told the newspaper that ongoing severe water shortages in Ermelo, Lichtenburg, Middleburg, Kriel, Delmas, and Lydenburg could be attributed to a lack of expertise, poor maintenance of infrastructure, and an absence of political will to maintain existing systems.

He said local authorities had demonstrated a preference for buying "new stuff" rather than maintaining existing structures.

Meanwhile, North-West University authorities sent students home on Thursday because of the ongoing severe water crisis.

All academic activities at the Potchefstroom campus were halted until at least Monday, resulting in a mass exodus of students.

"We don't want to take any health risks, and we're trying to limit campus water consumption to allow reservoirs to fill up faster," said campus spokesman Kiewiet Scheppel.

Most of Potchefstroom and the surrounding townships have been without water since last Sunday.

According to Potchefstroom municipal spokesperson Willie Maphosa, problems arose because pumps and valves at the water treatment plant were poorly regulated and reservoirs ran dry.

Maphosa said the council was investigating the possibility of gross negligence and sabotage.

Read more on:    afriforum  |  rejoice mabudafhasi  |  mahikeng  |  water  |  service delivery

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