The residents of Waterval village, near Elim Hospital, have no option but to drink from the local river where sewage and waste are deposited, because there is no other running water in the area.
The area has not had running water for several years. When the province was declared a disaster area due to the continuous drought, the only source of drinking water was the contaminated river water as the few boreholes owned by some of the villagers at their homes dried up.
“We have given up the hope that one day we will have clean running water at our homes. We have suffered for years, but nothing is being done regarding our situation. Maybe we should just embark on a strike like our fellow residents in other areas are doing,” said Mavis Baloyi, a local resident of Waterval village.
The Vhembe District Municipality has made numerous promises to address the shortage of water in the area with the residents, nothing has yet been done.
In December, the Vhembe District Municipality Executive Mayor, Florence Radzilani, declined the offer to have a R1.5 million mayoral vehicle purchased for herself. She asked that the money instead by used to sort out the water shortage challenges in some of deep rural villages of Vhembe.
“It is so painful having to drink dirty water from the river. The worst part is that when it’s raining, we even drink the water without having boiled it first. We have seen people come here before the elections and promise that if we vote for them, they will make sure that we have running water within our reach. But now months have come and gone and still we have no water in our taps,” said Baloyi.
Hoping and wishing
The Waterval area is just one of many rural villages within the Vhembe district that have water supply challenges. The Democratic Alliance representative in the area, Sylvester Mulaudzi, said they have tried all they can to get the municipality to address their water problem but nothing seems to work.
“Here, if you do not have a borehole at home you will be forced to drink sewage water. We have not had running water for years now. Our problems started long before even the province was declared a disaster area due to drought,” said Mulaudzi.
“We just keep on hoping and wishing that one day we will have running water like other neighbouring villages.”
The spokesperson for the Vhembe District Municipality, Matodzi Ralushai, said that the municipality was aware of the water supply problems the residents of Waterval are currently faced with.
“We do send tankers every week to all villages which are yet to have running water. Soon all our people will be having running water within the comfort of their homes,” said Ralushai.