Residents block road in protest against water shortage

2015-11-17 09:54
A community hall was burnt down in the KwaMsane area as residents protested over the non-delivery of water in the uMkhanyakude district.

A community hall was burnt down in the KwaMsane area as residents protested over the non-delivery of water in the uMkhanyakude district. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - Protests over the non-delivery of water in the drought-stricken uMkhanyakude district reached boiling point yesterday when residents from Mtubatuba blocked the N2 freeway with rocks and burning tyres.

About 2 000 people participated in the protest, police said. Eight were arrested after setting a community hall in KwaMsane on fire.

A resident from KwaMsane, Nomusa Msweli, said they last had water in June this year.

The protests started in Jozini two weeks ago, where residents accused the uMkhanyakude District Municipality of failing to deliver water.

The protests spread to Mtubatuba and KwaMsane yesterday after residents heard that Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu was going to Jozini, where he was expected to deliver a report on the water crisis.

Siyasiza Trust field worker and Mtubatuba resident Ntandose Gumede said she was stuck in traffic for two hours af-ter the protestors blocked the road.

“The protestors said they will not allow any car to go past Mtubatuba, saying their issues must be sorted out first before the MEC can go to Jozini.

“There is no alternative route when you are going to Jozini; you have to go via the N2. They knew that if they blocked the N2, the MEC would be unable to get to Jozini,” she said.

Police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said that KwaMsane Police were investigating a case of arson.

“Eight suspects were arrested and charged for holding an illegal public gathering. They are due to appear at the KwaMsane Magistrate’s Court tomorrow [today].

“Police managed to clear the road and they are monitoring the situation. We would like to ask motorists to take extra precautions when driving near the Mtubatuba area,” he said.

Jozini resident and Siyasiza Trust worker Jabu Nxumalo said the protestors had started gathering on Sunday night.

“The issue of water shortages is getting worse every day. Even in Jozini people are still protesting,” she said.

Umkhanyakude spokesperson Mduduzi Dlamini said “the municipality is doing the best it can”.

“We are one of the most badly hit areas. The community of Msane gets most of their water supply from the Mfolozi river, which has dried up completely.

“Even the 16 water tankers we have are not enough because uMkhanyakude is too wide,” he said.

Dlamini said the uMkhanyakude Municipality has started drilling to access groundwater.

He also blamed “cheap” politics and criminality for some of the protests.

“We note the protests, and we ­understand where the frustration of the residents is coming from. We would, however, like to condemn opportunists who have used this suffering to score political points.

“There was also vandalism in one of our community schemes where fences and doors were stolen,” he said.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  service delivery  |  protest

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