Water in Hammanskraal not fit for human consumption - SAHRC

2019-08-21 10:59
(Photo: iStock)

(Photo: iStock)

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The water in Hammanskraal is not fit for human consumption, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has told residents at a community meeting on Tuesday night.

Updating residents on its intervention over the past year, provincial SAHRC manager Buang Jones said complaints about the quality of water had been streaming in.

"The water has high concentrations of nitrates and phosphates. We then deduced that the water is not fit for human consumption," he said.

"We communicated this to the City [of Tshwane], that something needs to be done urgently so that we avoid any negative impact on the people of Hammanskraal... We are not doctors, but we can say that this high concentration of these two elements is not good for human consumption."

READ | It's discoloured but you can drink it: Tshwane says water is safe

Earlier this month, advocacy group Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) said it had found samples of the E. coli bacteria in Hammanskraal drinking water.

Health risks

OUTA notified the City of Tshwane last month and undertook a follow-up sample which indicated further health risks.

"Our follow-up sample found traces of E. coli and nitrates in the drinking water on the date the sample was taken which indicates faecal contaminants in the drinking water supply. Drinking the water can result in stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting which is an acute health risk," operations executive at OUTA, Julius Kleynhans, said at the time.

"The tested water sample was found not fit for use as potable water and for domestic use," the advocacy group said.

The results indicate high concentrations of nitrites (NO2) and nitrates (NO3) which posed a chronic health risk to some babies, as well as E. coli of 32 units per 100ml of water, the advocacy group added.

"There should be no E. coli in drinking water," Kleynhans said.

The City of Tshwane said last week that its water may be discoloured, but it disputed OUTA's contention that it was not safe to drink. 

"As a point of clarity, it is not a fact that the water is not safe for human consumption," mayoral spokesperson Omogolo Taunyane said at the time. 

The City said the last compulsory weekly water quality test was done by the national Department of Water and Sanitation on August 2, and it got the all clear. 

'Universal human right'

However, discolouration was an issue, the City conceded. 

The ANC said on Thursday that it was mulling taking the DA-led coalition governing the Tshwane Metro to court over the OUTA-commissioned analysis.

"The ANC is consulting with human rights attorneys with the intention of taking the DA-led coalition in the Tshwane municipal council to court regarding the provision of dirty and toxic water to the residents of Hammanskraal," said regional secretary Eugene Modise.

"The City of Tshwane is unashamedly trampling on the human rights of our residents in Hammanskraal. Access to clean water is a universal human right."

Taunyane said the mayoral office welcomed the ANC's court action in the matter.

"The City refutes all allegations by the party, calling it cheap politicking by spreading untruths in the public domain."

The City has been unavailable for comment on the SAHRC's latest claims. Comment will be added to this article once received.

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