Toxic water crisis: Gauteng in danger of contamination

By Drum Digital
30 March 2011

IT ALL started with a single growth on the back of his neck, but in less than a month, his whole neck was covered in lumps and they've been there ever since. David Ncwana knows exactly what has caused his health problems – the contaminated food he eats.

The 51-year-old former security guard lives on mealies, tomatoes and potatoes that he has planted on a patch of ground close to his shack in Tudor Shaft informal settlement near Kagiso, Krugersdorp.

"The soil contains bad chemicals from the mine," David says. "It's not right and it's in the water too." When it rains the puddles in the streets fill with orange-coloured water, killing the life in the nearby rivers.

His crops are contaminated with uranium, he believes, because the settlement is surrounded by radioactive mine dumps and tailings dams (see box opposite) which have contaminated the water. "What can we say?" he shrugs. "The government put us here and promised us houses. I have no house, no money and I have to eat, so I plant vegetables."

Read the article in the Drum of 7 April 2011 – and share your views below.

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