Cholera fears as Limpopo health facilities grapple with water shortages

The department said the residents destroyed water infrastructure and closed the Nandoni Dam.


Four hospitals and a number of healthcare centres are facing acute water shortages following a protracted week-long community protest in the Thulamela local municipality, the Limpopo department of health said this week. The affected hospitals are Tshilidzini, Donald Fraser, Louis Trichardt and Malamulele. However, Vhembe district municipality spokesperson Matodzi Ralushai said the strike was called off following meetings with community leaders. The department said the residents destroyed water infrastructure and closed the Nandoni Dam, which is the main water source in the region. “Due to the closure of the dam, delivering water through water tankers to the hospitals will not…

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Four hospitals and a number of healthcare centres are facing acute water shortages following a protracted week-long community protest in the Thulamela local municipality, the Limpopo department of health said this week.

The affected hospitals are Tshilidzini, Donald Fraser, Louis Trichardt and Malamulele. However, Vhembe district municipality spokesperson Matodzi Ralushai said the strike was called off following meetings with community leaders.

The department said the residents destroyed water infrastructure and closed the Nandoni Dam, which is the main water source in the region.

“Due to the closure of the dam, delivering water through water tankers to the hospitals will not be possible,” health department’s spokesperson Neil Shikwambana said in a statement.

“The department is worried that the closure of the dam and the destruction of infrastructure coincides with the scourge of cholera in other provinces.”

He said the department was working with all stakeholders to try and prevent the disease, but added that water shortages as a result of protest, will compromise the efforts.

“The department wishes to request community members to be considerate when venting their service delivery frustrations as the blocking of water supply inconveniences healthcare services with the potential for dire service delivery,” said Shikwambana.

ALSO READ: Cholera outbreak: New cases but no recent deaths, source still unknown

The incident has angered the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), which called for an end to the protest to save the lives of the sick.

“With the province having recorded its first case of cholera, the shortage of water in the area could spell disaster and could well be deadly for many residents, should they be infected,” said Denosa Limpopo provincial chair Lesiba Monyaki.

He said the union will appeal to the municipality to hasten to supply the affected communities with water as it is their constitutional right.

Infrastructure

“We would also like to persuade community leaders and residents to desist from destroying water infrastructure as and when they exercise their right to protest.

“The very same community members who are partaking in the protest action, if they were to become unwell and need to be taken to hospitals, would need the very same water in a healthcare facility that they have shut down,” added Monyaki.

“Water promotes hygiene and is essential in infection control and management in an area that is hit by a disease outbreak.”

Ralushai said the situation was now under control and that maintenance work of the damaged pipes has gotten underway.

“We acknowledge that communities have the right to protest but vandalism of government infrastructure is a criminal act that also caused the municipality a lot of money as it must be repaired,” said Ralushai.

Principal coordinator of the community protests, Ramadolela Maluta, confirmed that the protest had been provisionally withdrawn, following promises made by the municipality to restore the water supply. “This was not a war.

All we wanted was clean running tap water. We only took to the streets after the municipality failed to fulfil its promises since 2017 until today,” he said.

“We have dams full of water. We have a five-star water reservoir, built with our hard-earned millions, but still the municipality fails to bring water to us.”

ALSO READ: North West confirms first two cases of cholera

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