Severe diarrhoea outbreak in Bloemhof

By Drum Digital
29 May 2014

Water supply was restored in Boitumelong township in Bloemhof, North West.

Water supply was restored in Boitumelong township in Bloemhof, North West, on Thursday afternoon but the water was smelly and brown, residents said.

Resident Mirriam Olifant said: "The water is back but smells of shit. It is not drinkable."

"We can't put our lives in danger again," she told Sapa.

More than 200 people were hospitalised with diarrhoea this week in the water-depleted North West town which has seen schools shut down and police and municipal offices left without water.

Another resident Tshepiso Dikobe said: "The water looks like a ginger-drink, brownish in colour. We are afraid to use it because we might get sick again."

On the corner of one of the streets, a group of young men sat drinking beer.

When asked how the water shortage affected them, the young men said: "We don't have a water problem. We drink beer instead of water."

In Bloemhof CBD, people were carrying a 5-litre water bottle they bought at shops.

North West health department spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane earlier confirmed that a baby had died on Wednesday after contracting severe diarrhoea from the contamination.

Over 200 people had reported to local clinics with similar symptoms since Saturday. He said claims of a cholera outbreak had not yet been confirmed.

"Cholera can only be declared when there have been laboratory tests done. We have not declared it cholera. We took samples from the water to go test them. We have not received the results from the laboratory."

Earlier, Lekwa-Teemane municipal manager Andrew Makwapane blamed a contractor for Bloemhof's water contamination.

He said that if somebody was responsible for the contamination, the municipality would take the necessary steps.

Makwapane said tests were being carried out to determine the cause of the diarrhoea. The results were expected on Friday.

Violent protests erupted in the area in April when residents torched several buildings, including a municipal office, clinic and houses belonging to municipality employees. The mayor's house was also set alight.

Makwapane urged people to boil water before use.

Earlier in the day, Boitumelong residents queued to fill containers with contaminated water from what appeared to be the only working tap in the area in a yard.

They said they needed the water even though it was impure because they had been without water for a week.


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