Bloemfontein – A mood of jubilation and excitement filled the air as Senekal residents welcomed a truck filled with fresh water on Friday.
The crowd excitedly hurried to where they had placed their buckets and containers and formed a queue from the tap of the water tanker.
After weeks of a dry spell, people wanted to make sure that not a single drop of water was wasted. They put their buckets under the sides of the truck to catch the water spilling over.
Residents said they had been queuing since 03:00. They thought they were dreaming when they saw the truck approaching.
At another municipal water station, residents waited in the 41°C heat, with no shade.
"This has become our reality and we can’t even complain. It is like this everywhere," said Joseph Mabaso.
"Sometimes the truck comes early or late, but I am really hungry. I hope it comes soon," he said.
On Thursday, residents said the municipality had not been delivering water consistently, and if taps did not start running with clean water soon they would not vote in the upcoming elections.
One woman said she lived in a household of 10 people. She was standing in line with a baby strapped to her back.
"Yesterday [Thursday] we waited and waited for water, but we did not get it. We are thirsty and we are hungry. The municipality should increase the water they give us," she said.
Shops, restaurants, and petrol stations in the town had started putting up signs with the words "no toilets".
The Setsoto local municipality was providing more than 260 000 litres of water a day to residents.
Water services manager Thabo Mokhethoa said each household received 50 litres per day. They bought it from local farmers for 15c a litre, and not 4c, as previously reported, he said.
Residents had complained that 50 litres per household per day was not nearly enough for a family.
The defence force in Bethlehem, aid organisations, and people from other provinces had been delivering water to residents.