Limpopo villagers up in arms over fears shopping mall will take their water

2020-03-21 06:37
Magangeni’s only source of water is Lemana Dam, which Elim mall is using. (Bernard Chiguvare, GroundUp)

Magangeni’s only source of water is Lemana Dam, which Elim mall is using. (Bernard Chiguvare, GroundUp)

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Villagers in Magangeni, Limpopo, are upset with Chief Samuel Mukhari, accusing him of breaking a promise to sink boreholes for them, GroundUp reports.

The traditional council, however, denies any such promise was made.

The village of about 100 households is 30km from Louis Trichardt. The construction of a sizeable mall in Elim, about 5km from Magangeni, has left villagers fearing for their water supply.

Their only source of water is the Lemana Dam which is a 15-minute drive away.

GroundUp saw a bakkie, hired by residents, which was full of empty 20-litre containers, heading out to the dam to collect water. There is no tap water in the village.

The Elim mall, owned by Twin City, has several chain stores, like Shoprite and Spar, and several others shops, including fast food outlets McDonalds and KFC.

Boreholes

According to community leaders, when construction started on the second phase of the mall two years ago, Mukhari promised that in return for using the dam, boreholes would be drilled for the village.

"[If] it [the Lemana Dam] dries up, we are going to be in trouble. Elim mall is a big entity and I am sure they have alternatives," said a resident who did not want to be named.

Some homesteads have boreholes and sell 20 litres for R2, but not everyone can afford even this.

Mukhari referred GroundUp to Vicky Muvhali, the chairperson of the Njakanjaka traditional council, who said: "I am not aware of this promise, but I was chairing the meeting where we agreed that the mall should get water from [the] Lemana Dam.

"We agreed with the community structures … the water would be purified … so that the community gets water. Elim Hospital will also benefit if purified water are piped to the hospital from the mall."

Break pipes

Muvhali said the leadership structures of communities frequently changed and, at times, individuals claiming to represent the community presented themselves at meetings and then misinformed their communities.

Several residents told GroundUp they had tried to damage the pipes to stop the mall getting water from their dam.

Muvhali said he was unaware of any such action.

"Most Sundays, we hold community meetings, but the chief is silent about the whole issue," said a villager who also did not want to be named. "We really do not know what to do. Anyone who dare raise the issue may be ordered to leave the village. We really are afraid of the chief."

Read more on:    polokwane  |  water
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