Gift of the Givers called to rescue another Western Cape municipality as it awaits funding

With the goodwill truck from Gift of the Givers are Carmen Titus, John Solomon from Gift of the Givers and Trevor Titus. (Supplied)
With the goodwill truck from Gift of the Givers are Carmen Titus, John Solomon from Gift of the Givers and Trevor Titus. (Supplied)

Gift of the Givers is once again lending a hand in another drought-stricken municipality in the Western Cape.

Founder Imtiaz Sooliman said the organisation was responding to frantic calls from Laingsburg municipality, which is currently running out of water.

Two weeks ago, the organisation was called to help the drought-stricken Beaufort West municipality and provided water to the people of the area.

However, Sooliman complained about unfulfilled financial promises by the Western Cape government.

He criticised the province for its lack of preparation for the drought.

READ: Western Cape govt disputes Gift of the Givers' claims on Laingsburg water crisis

The main water source for the area, Soutkloof fountain, has dried up as a result of very low levels of water in the main reservoir and water consumption that is higher that the inflow.

"Both these requests came during the time that Gift of the Givers offices were closed for the December shutdown period. It's the only time in the year that our staff try to get a break but they had to be called back to respond to the crisis.

"What real preparations has the Western Cape government made for the drought outside Cape Town city? Why do the municipalities keep calling Gift of the Givers directly for assistance when they are in crisis? Is there a lack of faith within their own hierarchy to get the job done effectively?" he asked.

'Tens of millions of rands' in costs

De Doorns was in trouble in the first quarter of last year and requested assistance from Gift of the Givers, he said. 

The organisation responded immediately with five boreholes producing 800 000 litres per day. Several other boreholes were established in various areas to help supplement substantially reduced water levels.

"Then came the cry from farmers. Their animals were dying in the hundreds from lack of fodder in Laingsburg, Mossel Bay, Albertina, De Vlaktes and many other areas. Gift of the Givers responded with huge quantities of fodder.

"In January 2018, Gift of the Givers brought in 300 containers of bottled water by ship on standby to respond to the drought crisis in Cape Town. For all these vital interventions that have cost us in the tens of millions of rands, we have not received even one rand in funding from the Western Cape government even though it was promised to us repeatedly in multiple meetings from as early as March 2018," said Sooliman.

READ: Gift of the Givers aims to bring temporary relief to drought-stricken Beaufort West

Sooliman said had the promise materialised the organisation could have prevented the current water crisis in many areas and saved thousands of animals and hundreds of farmworkers' jobs.

"But every time Gift of the Givers intervened, whether it was to deal with the water shutdown in Karl Bremmer Hospital, distributing water to schools where taps dried up, delivering fodder to starving animals, providing emergency assistance for the fires in Khayelitsha and elsewhere, and even supplying various fire stations with water for firefighting, all we received was thanks from the Western Cape government, a pat on the back, and  repeated promises of funding.

"Ten months have passed, we are still waiting. Thanks to generous South Africans and select corporates, Gift of the Givers' resolve to assist continues as our people come first," he said.

Gift of the Givers staff will cut their break short for duty on Saturday 09:00 at the organisation's Tygerberg warehouse, loading water for the people of Laingsburg.

"We will probably get another thank you, a pat on the back, a renewed empty promise for funding till the next municipality calls us directly as they have no faith nor hope in their own hierarchy," he said.

MEC of local government, environmental affairs and development planning Anton Bredell on Saturday disputed some of the claims on the water crisis in Laingsburg.

Bredell said that despite experiencing the worst drought seen in the last 400 years, no town has run out of water.

Read his response here: Western Cape govt disputes Gift of the Givers' claims on Laingsburg

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