Residents, cops clash

2019-07-11 16:07
Emaswazini community members blocked the R617 Bulwer Main Road on Wednesday in protest over a lack of water in the area.

Emaswazini community members blocked the R617 Bulwer Main Road on Wednesday in protest over a lack of water in the area. (MOEKETSI MAMANE)

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Residents in Emaswazini, near Taylor’s Halt, on Wednesday took to the streets to protest over a lack of water in the area.

The community barricaded the R617 Bulwer main road with burning tyres, logs and rocks, saying they had been without water for over three months.

Police used rubber bullets and teargas after the protesters became violent and started throwing stones at the officers.

One protester was injured during the clash.

A bus transporting people from the nearby Mafakathini area was also pelted with stones. Motorists and truck drivers were left frustrated after being stuck on the road for hours.

An Emaswazini resident, who did not want to be named, said Msunduzi Municipality had provided poor service in the area under ward 8. “The water tanker only comes once a week. I live far away from the road where the tanker stops, so getting water is a struggle. Cows drink our water as we can only carry one bucket at a time. I have a child who attends school in the area; she gets a rash almost always because the water from the tankers is dirty,” said the resident.

Others said that sometimes there was sand and grass in the water that came out of the tankers.

Another local resident who suffers from arthritis and walks with a stick, said sometimes the tanker leaves before she can get to it. “I don’t have money to pay children to carry my buckets from the road to my house. I rely on my neighbour if she is around, but otherwise I stay without water,” she said.

Another resident explained the difficulties she faces when the tanker comes.

“The trucks come in the morning when the children are at school and I’m alone; therefore I have to carry water by myself. As you can see, I’m weak and can hardly walk,” she said.

Explaining the lack of water in Emaswazini, ward councillor Makhosazana Zondo said they rely on water levels in the supply reservoir to improve.

“There are other wards that are affected, not just Ward 8. Only if the reservoir is at 50% can the pumps be switched on to supply the areas with water.”

The initial idea was that the tankers would deliver water to one area a day. But because some areas are bigger than others, the tankers need to return for a second time to the same area. The result is that the other areas have to wait a few more days before they get water.

“We currently don’t have a proper water supply rotation and I can’t say on which particular day people will have water,” said Zondo.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele confirmed that officers had responded after community members blocked the road.

She said no serious incidents had been reported. “A case of public violence is being investigated by the Boston SAPS, and the police are still at the scene.”

By late Wednesday afternoon, the road was still blocked.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  protest action

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