Angry residents ambush councillor over water

2009-03-04 00:00

Msunduzi ward councillor Dolo Zondi was ambushed while driving his children to school yesterday morning by angry community members who have had no water for the past four weeks.

Zondi, who is the councillor for kwaMpumuza near Sweetwaters, was held hostage by community members who refused to let him go until he sorted out their water woes.

He had to make alternative arrangements for his children to get to school while he tried to reach various municipal officials without any luck. He said he went up the chain of command with no officials answering their phones. He eventually reached municipal manager Rob Haswell, who sent a team out.

“This is a crisis,” said an angry Zondi, who reported the problem to municipal officials four weeks ago and was unaware that no one had bothered to reconnect the water.

“What kind of service are we providing for our people,” he asked.

Zondi’s own probe into the matter revealed that contractors who were working in the area allegedly used incorrect and sub-standard material, which resulted in the problem. He plans to raise the matter at today’s council executive committee meeting to find out how work is awarded to contractors and whether there is any supervision and checking once a contract is completed.

According to Zondi, previously people depended on springs and a regular water tanker service from the municipality. A couple of months ago contractors moved in. They started digging, laying down piping and building communal water standpipes. There was great rejoicing in the community.

However, a short while later, it stopped working.

He said even though he complained to the officials the water tanker service was not reinstated.

Late yesterday afternoon, Zondi said the technicians who went out to the site told him a mechanism on the standpipe had to be replaced. This confirms his suspicion that inferior material was used.

Grandmother Thembeni Luthuli, who takes care of nine grandchildren, says she is desperate. “My problem is that my children are thirsty and I don’t have a drop of water. I can’t wash clothes and I can’t bath the children. We are all living in filth and I am worried that these little ones can get sick.”

S’tutu Zondi said they were overjoyed when the standpipe was installed only to find that their joy has now turned into a disaster.

A young resident in the area, Sihle Dlamini, who reported the problem to Zondi when it first occurred, said that instead of installing standpipes, the council should have laid on piped water to homes.

He pointed out the irony of the large H.D. Hill water reservoir at the top of Morcom Road, which serves the previous white group area of Prestbury. Just over the crest of the hill, kwaMapumuza has no piped water.

Attempts by The Witness to get hold of Haswell and deputy manager for infrastructure services, Phil Mashoko, were unsuccessful.

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