Ermelo community's 40-year struggle for safe drinking water

2019-02-16 08:19
Residents of Skaapruiz settlement near Ermelo struggle to get water (Supplied)

Residents of Skaapruiz settlement near Ermelo struggle to get water (Supplied)

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For almost four decades, the residents of the Skaapruiz settlement near Ermelo have struggled to get water from their municipality.

Their only stable source of water is a small pond and a stream, which they share with their cattle.

They also don't have access to toilet facilities and have to use the nearby bushes when nature calls.

Skaapruiz was established in 1979, when a mining company donated the land to the community. The community built 130 mud houses.

No development

Despite numerous promises from the Msukaligwa municipality in Ermelo to supply piped water, there has been no development in the area.

DA Mpumalanga leader Jane Sithole has called on the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to do an investigation into all the communities which have been without water for many years.

"It is disgusting to see how this community survives and was left behind without the basic human rights of having potable water.

Also read: Watch rising water usage - City of Cape Town urges residents

"I was informed that there are regularly outbreaks of illnesses, such as stomach problems, due to the dirty water."

At Sheepmore, about 40km from Ermelo, there are two massive reservoirs with a complete bulk reticulation system, but without any water.

These reservoirs were erected around 2000, but were never connected to a bulk water supply pipe, says Sithole.

Dry boreholes

Mandla Zwane, spokesperson for the Msukaligwa municipality, said the water problems at Skaapruiz were due to boreholes drying up, as a result of mining activities. The council uses a water tanker to supply water to the community.

Regarding the empty reservoirs in Sheepmoor, Zwane said there was a project currently on the go to connect bulk water supply to the system.

"This will be completed by end June," he promised.

On the issue of toilets at Skaapruiz, Zwane said the council would soon roll out a new toilet system.

"A new toilet, called a 'convertible waterborne system' is being tested. As soon as it is proven successful, it will be rolled out to all farming communities."

Read more on:    mbombela  |  service delivery  |  water

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