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By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Cholera latest: Toll rises to 47 as outbreak claims four more lives

The latest official death toll of people who have succumbed to cholera-related illnesses, now stands at 47.

The Health Department on Wednesday, 5 July that the number of people who have died due to the cholera outbreak in South Africa, has risen to 47.

Gauteng accounted for 35 deaths of the official toll, the Free State six, Mpumalanga two and Limpopo four.

Threat of cholera transmission not over

Despite a significant decline in confirmed cholera cases nationwide recently, the department warned that the danger of cholera transmission is still a reality.

“Only one confirmed positive cholera case was recorded out of 28 new suspected cases in the past 10 days. However, this does not mean cholera transmission is over, and the public is urged to remain vigilant and exercise personal hygiene at all times, especially when preparing and serving food during mass gatherings,” the department’s communication manager Foster Mohale said.

ALSO READ: Cholera cases linked to social gatherings, funerals – Health Dept as death toll rises

Winter initiation season

With the winter initiation season currently under way, Mohale emphasised the importance of personal hygiene and the provision of clean water at these schools.

“The department also urges all those involved in the running of initiation schools to work closely with healthcare workers.

“This to ensure that this important cultural practice takes place in compliance with the relevant health and safety regulations, especially personal hygiene and provision of clean water from reliable sources to prevent the outbreak and transmission of waterborne diseases like cholera,” Mohale said.

ALSO READ: Police shut down illegal initiation school in Limpopo

Hammanskraal the epicentre of SA cholera outbreak

Cholera-related deaths and hospitalisations have been reported in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Vredefort and Parys.

Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, is considered the epicentre of the outbreak, with at least 99 confirmed cases and 23 deaths.

Edwin Sodi’s R295 failed tender to upgrade Rooiwal plant

The dilapidated state of the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant has been cited as the most probable reason for the health crisis which reared its ugly head on 15 May in the area.

The plant releases water into the Leeuwkraal Dam, which serves as the primary water source for the Temba wastewater treatment plant responsible for supplying water to Hammanskraal.

edwin sodi hammanskraal rooiwal water works
The Hammanskraal cholera outbreak has cast the spotlight on controversial businessman Edwin Sodi for a tender that was awarded to refurbish and upgrade the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant (pictured right). Photos: Instagram/ Jacques Nelles

In 2019, a R295 million tender to refurbish and upgrade the treatment plant was awarded to the controversial Bryanston tenderpreneur Edwin Sodi.

According to a forensic report by ActionSA, the Blackhead Consulting director jumped ship not long after the tender was awarded in an “illegal and irregular” manner by “five City of Tshwane officials”.

ALSO READ: Hammanskraal cholera: Edwin Sodi’s R295m Rooiwal tender… where did the money go?

Ramaphosa’s R4bn promise to upgrade of Rooiwal

During a visit to Hammanskraal on 8 June, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the commmunity, apologising for the poor quality of water.

“We are sorry that it has taken the deaths of a number of people, even though we have not yet confirmed that the cholera deaths are as a result of the water supplied to residents. Your basic human right of having clean water, we have not lived up to your expectations as the people of Hammanskraal,” said Ramaphosa.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa and media saw ‘wrong part’ of Rooiwal, says local farmer

A site visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Rooiwal Water Care Works in Hammanskraal, 8 June 2023.. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
A site visit by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Rooiwal Water Care Works in Hammanskraal on 8 June. Photo: Neil McCartney / The Citizen

The president assured the people of Hammanskraal that attending to the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant will be prioritised by government.

“It will require R4 billion and money will be made available from various departments of government, including the City of Tshwane.

“The city will also make a contribution to make sure that we revamp and expand Rooiwal wastewater treatment works and we also revamp the Temba water treatment plant so that they both can deliver clean running water,” said Ramaphosa.

ALSO READ: There’s a ‘high-level agreement’ to upgrade Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant

Damning Blue Drop Watch Report

At the beginning of June, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu released the interim Blue Drop Watch Report with some damning findings about the predominately poor and contaminated quality of municipal drinking water.

The issues of biggest concern raised in the report included a collapse of the country’s wastewater treatment works and a sharp rise in the number of local authorities that are failing to meet minimum compliance standards.

The report also noted that 11 of the 140 municipalities which were assessed, had no water quality monitoring systems in place or no evidence of any water testing.

To view the full report, click here.


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