Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality under fire for contaminated water

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A full report was requested but had not been forthcoming. Photo: Ian Waldie, Getty Images
A full report was requested but had not been forthcoming. Photo: Ian Waldie, Getty Images


A complaint has been filed by the DA against the Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality in Limpopo for allegedly providing water, which is unfit for human consumption to parts of Letsitele, a farming district.

On Monday, DA councillor Chrisma Bredenkamp said the complaint had been filed with the Environmental Management Inspectorate following an oversight visit to Letsitele Clinic.

“During the oversight visit, we found children drinking foul-smelling water from a tap.” Bredenkamp said:

We requested the municipality to test the water, and they discovered that it was unfit for human consumption as it contained E.coli.

A full report was requested but had not been forthcoming.

“After the municipality refused to furnish us with a copy of the report they received after the tests, I had the water tested at my own costs. These tests confirmed that the water at the clinic was contaminated and hazardous for people to consume.”

The tests were conducted at Capricorn Veterinary Laboratories. Bredenkamp said Letsitele residents also complained of foul-smelling water running from their taps. Residents also sent photographs of dirty water filters that they had to change every two weeks.

READ: Goodbye ANC, and now there’s water

Bredenkamp added that since April when the municipality became aware of the contaminated water, no preventative measures had been put in place nor was a notice issued to affected residents. Bredenkamp said:

The DA believes that this contamination results from years of neglect of water infrastructure and an outdated sewage system.

“We believe that the municipality must be held responsible for not executing their constitutional obligation to provide clean water to all residents and we trust that the environmental management will swiftly investigate the contamination and bring the municipality to account.”

Municipal spokesperson Neville Ndlala said Letsitele Clinic utilises water from a borehole and not a municipal source. 

“It is also true that we conducted laboratory tests on the water from the clinic and the results have been given to the environmental inspectors and clinic management. We have also advised the clinic management to apply for a municipal connection.” 

He cautioned that it would be premature to make any factual conclusions on the quality of water based on the filtering done by residents.

“The municipality will use the services of an independent laboratory to conduct tests on the water of the residents of Letsitele to verify whether it does not comply with SANC [SA National Standard] 241. The municipality conducts weekly laboratory tests on its water treatment plants and monthly tests on its water distribution network, and the results from these show that the municipality fully complies with SANS 241.” 

Residents are urged to wait for the independent laboratory results before drawing any conclusions.


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