WATCH | 'The City does not care' - Durban residents protest after almost 50 days without tap water

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  • Residents in Brake Village, Tongaat took to the streets to protest over lack of tap water.
  • Locals say that since the April floods in KwaZulu-Natal, they have had no running water for almost 50 days - and that water tankers appear sporadically.
  • Disgruntled members of the community are fed up.

The Brake Village community in Tongaat, Durban braved the cold on Monday morning after having to make do without running water in their homes almost 50 days since devastating floods hit the province.

Local residents blocked Watson Highway, burning trees and tyres, and demanding immediate action from government officials.

Police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala said the community started gathering at around 06:00 and added that they would monitor the situation.

The community of largely elderly residents said they received little to no help from authorities even though they are well aware that their taps are dry.

The area was hit the hardest by the floods.

READ | The storm ain't over: logistics legal head warns of financial fallout from KZN floods

There have been large-scale protests in recent weeks after the City was accused of ignoring the calls of tens of thousands of people, who have no access to proper water supply since Tongaat Water Works was destroyed in the April floods.

The City said it could take up to 10 months to rebuild the facility.

In the interim, Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said water tankers would augment water supply and that water rationing would be implemented for those who have water on tap.

But residents said the City has been slow in supplying water tankers and commencing repairs to the badly affected northern parts of the city.

Monday protests

Neville Venkatsamy, a young Brake Village leader who has been coordinating water relief efforts, said there were promises that water tankers would be brought in but added that nothing materialised.

"Tanks come half full, smelly and with discoloured water. People cannot even bath with that. You are going into a river, pumping water into your tanker and coming with a half-full thing and expect us to take it."

"We have found a solution, but we have been told by officials not to explore that."

He added:

There is another line down the road on Walter Reid Road where people are filling water in queues. If you can tap in from that line to the Amanzimnyama area, everyone will get water. But the City does not care.

Venkatsamy said it was becoming personally taxing to continue to try to help residents.  

"Most of the people in Brake Village do not have vehicles. Those who do have vehicles are helping all those without cars. How much more can we help them? We are sponsoring the residents with drinking water, bathing water, but we are also feeling it hard.

"We are not working all the time because we are filling water. The money taken for fuel and our time is a lot."

He was concerned about the elderly in particular.

"The elderly are battling. We as the younger generation are trying to help. We have four or five out of 132 houses trying to help. The rest are working and retired. It is a hell of a situation.

"From the first flood, they have had no proper water supply."

Venkatsamy also criticised local DA ward councillor Geoff Pullan, saying he only gave attention to the affluent beach areas of his ward.

ALSO READ | 'No land' to house displaced flood victims

"He cannot tell us anything. He cannot make any promises. He says he cannot involve himself with anything with us. He is concentrating more with the beach areas. Anything you ask him he has no answers. Geoff Pullan cannot assure us of anything."

News24 reached out to Pullan, who said much of his ward was devastated, particularly the beaches. While speaking to News24, Pullan said, two water tankers had arrived in Brake Village.

"We have been hit hard. There have been problems in Umdloti with roads and houses washed away. La Mercy was not as badly damaged, but the road is closed on the M4 and they have also not had enough water and electricity.

He added: 

We're obviously trying our best. Our biggest challenge is getting hold of officials. We are trying to talk to water officials to try to get water on tap, but they have seldom responded.

In recent weeks, Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, Deputy Mayor Philani Mavundla and Premier Sihle Zikalala, who is also a resident in La Mercy, promised to increase water tanker services to the area.

Mavundla, in particular, addressed a crowd of thousands of people a month after the floods, when residents took to the streets to bemoan the lack of attention from the City.


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