Cases dry up in Protea Magistrate's Court due to water shortage

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People left stranded outside the Protea Magistrate's Court.
People left stranded outside the Protea Magistrate's Court.
Ntwaagae Seleka
  • Lack of water has led to cases being postponed in the Protea Magistrate's Court.
  • The problem began in January this year, according to staff.
  • The Department of Public Works apologised to the public and said the problem would be fixed. 

Low water pressure that resulted in a water shortage at the Protea Magistrate's Court in Soweto saw many cases not being heard.

According to staff members, the water shortages had forced them to bring water meant for their personal consumption to work, as well as to use nearby buildings when answering nature's call.

Last week, scores of people were left stranded outside the premises after security guards prevented them from accessing the building.

Workers explained to the public the restrictions were a recurring one. 

Among the scores of people who were left frustrated were the family, friends, and traditional healers who attended the case of schizophrenic Jostina Sangweni, 59, who was murdered in Soweto.

Sangweni was killed by a mob in Mapetla after being accused of being a witch.

Her murder has attracted protesters following the court appearances by Collen Sello, 27, and Taelo Dipholo, 28.

The court has postponed the pair's formal bail twice since last week due to water shortages. 

READ | Jostina Sangweni murder: Lack of water at court forces postponement of case

Department of Public Works spokesperson Lunga Mahlangu said the department was aware of the water shortages.

"Water shortages emanate from an ongoing dolomite project at the neighbouring Protea SAPS building. The project scope is intended to upgrade all civil engineering services to be made dolomite compliant.

"It has been established that the water supply has low pressure which makes it difficult for the reservoir to fill up, and in return affects water supply. It was also discovered that a previously installed pump was later stolen from the facility," Mahlangu added.

Pipes

Based on a report that was compiled on 25 January, one of the water pipes was found to be damaged.

"Even after the damaged pipe was fixed, the water supply to the court did not recover or improve. The water pressure was very low and causing the system on the court premises to dry out when the court is operational. 

"The water was reaching the court, but the pressure was not adequate. The water supply to the court that comes from the SAPS complex is a bypass supply. The reservoir could not be filled to capacity as a result of the system experiencing an airlock, which meant that water was not being pumped adequately. 

"The cause is not known. We suspect that it might have been caused by water outages during which the pump was only pumping air."

ALSO READ | Church attack: Water shortage forces court to adjourn bail applications

Mahlangu said the department had resolved that the installation of an automated pump would improve the situation.

The automation will also have sensors to notify if there is not enough supply from the main line.

He added the department had decided to install JoJo tanks as a supplementary system.

"The department is committed in ensuring that court proceedings are not hindered. We apologise to all members of the public who have been affected by the situation," he added.

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