Anger as Diepsloot stays dry

2012-04-18 17:57

Johannesburg - Diepsloot was at a standstill on Wednesday as a water crisis entered its sixth day, with no official word on when residents could drink from taps again.

The focus of life in the informal settlement, north of Johannesburg, is now water as men, women and children stand in long queues waiting for trucks to bring drinking water.

Problems began last Thursday when a contractor upgrading infrastructure accidentally broke a water pipe which was then contaminated with sewage, affecting the water supply to the whole area.

Communal taps were pouring clear water on Wednesday as Johannesburg Water flushed the pipes to ensure all signs of bacteria were gone.

"We were told by the police that there was poison in the water and we must not drink it," said resident Johanna Matlhadisa.

"We are too scared to touch it, never mind to drink it," she said.

Mpho Dumiso said she needed water to make mielie pap, the staple of her family.

"We are eating bread and drinking Coke but we want to cook now, my baby wants pap; really, we can't go on like this."

Grade 11 Iterele High School pupil, Vinas Macefane, said she had not been to school this week because she couldn't wash and her school clothes were dirty.

"We also don't have anything to drink at school and we can't flush the toilets."

Mother of two Lucia Maswanganye said some of her neighbours were buying water from other communities, who were charging R15 for 25 litres.

"But I don't have a job so I have no money to buy water," she said.

Agnes Lehobye said she left home at 06:00 with her water buckets in a wheelbarrow on Monday.

"I found a water truck eventually and by the time I got home it was past 11:00."

Maureen Mamafha was one of the few lucky ones. Her husband has a car and a job in Centurion and has been filling water buckets every day at work.

"At least I don't have to fight and wait in queues," she said.

Mamafha has two small children and, she said, the school feeding scheme at her grade one daughter's school had stopped this week.

"They can't make food without water so I am sending my child with a lunchbox and some of the water that my husband brings."

Many children were not going to school, she said.


Pensioner Klaas Kgasago lives with his two elderly brothers Charles and Hendrik on a road called Emfuleni, which ironically means "river".

In his yard he had three buckets lined up for the household's water needs.

"We were moved from Alexandra township many years ago and the government promised us a house. We have filled in forms six or seven times and they keep putting stickers on our door for a house, but nothing happens. We want a house with electricity and, most importantly, a tap," he said.

Across the road at Hlongwane's Kitchen and Tavern the water cut-off has been devastating.

Every day, Petros Hlongwane makes pap and meat as a take-away. He sells about 20 plates a day for R20 each. Since the water cut-off he has not had water to cook and has been turning away customers.

On Monday and Tuesday he had to close shop.

"There is nobody else here, just me. When that water truck comes I must run because I need water for my business. It has been very hard and I am losing a lot of money."

Even a live chicken seller was battling. He asked to remain anonymous but explained his chickens couldn't be given contaminated water because locals would not buy them.

"I have to run for water for my chickens, otherwise they will die of thirst," he said.

According to the 2001 census Diepsloot covers an area of 8.58km but has a population of 50 000. The majority of the community speak Sepedi or isiZulu.

  • Ian - 2012-04-18 18:07

    Don't worry, a government spokesperson will soon announce that 'there is no water crisis in Diepsloot', and the problem will be solved..........

      Julie - 2012-04-18 18:20

      @DMoerin, I doubt whether a govt. spokesperson will even bother to make such an announcement - after all, aforesaid govt. spokesman probably lives in a R6-million mansion where the cleanest, purest water is laid on. As long as he/she has that, why worry about the poorer residents of Diepsloot...

      Ray - 2012-04-18 18:41

      The contractor was probably a cadre-just keep voting ANC and you will probably find air is taxed,but ther will also be "outages".

      rynhardt.ferreira - 2012-04-18 19:18

      Mmmmmm, this made me think... "But I don't have a job so I have no money to buy water," she said... Who then pays for her water bill every month... Uhmmmm, you and me!!! But still, must be terrible to go without water for so long!!

  • Elkita - 2012-04-18 18:26

    Vote DA and your troubles are over.......

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-18 18:32

      VIVA DA, VIVA VIVA VIVA Vote DA and they will change your name from Dry-sloot, back to Diepsloot

      Rohin - 2012-04-18 18:54

      don't know if DA will solve all the problems, but it's worth trying something different as in 16 years - i don't see the promised service delivery. remember this well when election time rolls round residents of diepsloot.

      alansmartSnr - 2012-04-18 22:48

      @ Elkita.. exactly my thoughts but of course it will all be the fault of apartheid from 20 years ago. The DA should have cashed in on this crisis and sponsored some trucks with flyers in their native tongue exsposing the ANC's weaknesses.. I know I would have

  • jacques.koorts - 2012-04-18 18:43

    District 9

  • Piet - 2012-04-18 18:58

    Brilliant!! You got what you voted for!!

  • Zahir - 2012-04-18 19:00

    The anc voters drink poison water while their leaders drink french champagne??

  • braamc - 2012-04-18 19:21

    The efficient job was awarded to a tenderpreneur. Then you get what you vote for, silence. Viva ANC, viva

  • jurgen.eksteen - 2012-04-18 19:54

    Citizens of Diepsloot!! You voted for the wrong party!!

  • Boy Bana - 2012-04-18 20:34

    it is shameless no matter who u voted u.

  • Vernon - 2012-04-18 20:46

    its a pity..really.

  • Johana - 2012-04-18 22:09

    Sorry to say, but they got what they have voted for.

  • Elkita - 2012-04-18 22:13

    Keep on voting anc and keep on staying in diep-dry-sloot.

  • - 2012-04-18 22:48

    i still think we should deal with this the egyptian and libyan way.

  • adam - 2012-04-19 05:56

    I dropped my cleaning lady off there yesterday with two containers of water. The situation is terrible, I wonder if the DA should not be asked to help, or we will soon have more refugees. Surely a few plumbers a TLB and a piece of pipe....I mean, what is up with the service providers??

  • Dennis - 2012-04-19 06:13

    Thank God I live in a D A lead province !!

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