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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal ‘very urgent’ – Mchunu

Mchunu said there are historical developments of problems associated with the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant and it needs to be resolved.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal has become “very urgent” and that intergovernmental intervention is required to resolve the crisis.

Minister Senzo Mchunu briefed the media on Thursday on the latest intervention measures undertaken by the department and City of Tshwane to deal with the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal.

Muchunu was joined by the deputy ministers, David Mahlobo and Judith Tshabalala, including the executive mayor of the City of Tshwane, Cilliers Brink.

Rooiwal repairs

The minister said there are historical developments of problems associated with the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant and the whole system including the Temba Water Treatment Works. 

“The water provision situation in Hammanskraal is untenable and needs to be resolved, tangible, sustainable plans need to be implemented to ensure that there is a continued supply of safe and clean water supplied to these residents.”  

“Tests are being conducted, to obtain the source of the cholera. These tests will be synthesised into a comprehensive report and will be made public. We have finalised plans that will address the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant once and for all,” he said.

Source of cholera infection

The City of Tshwane said the original source of the cholera infection has not been located.

“However, it is possible that the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal is related to the pollution of water sources in the area from the city’s Rooiwal Waste Water (sewage) Treatment Works, situated upstream of Hammanskraal, which has not been well-maintained for many years.”

Brink said the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment plant had reached its capacity and thus the city is unable to fix it “quick enough”.

ALSO READ: Joburg Water confirms water safe for drinking amid cholera outbreak

Cost to repair Rooiwal

He said the city has teamed up with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) to fast-track resources and funding to upgrade Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant to improve the quality of Hammanskraal water.

“The total estimated cost to fix Rooiwal is now R4 billion. The city has already made an allocation of R450 million approved by council yesterday. We will work with DWS, National Treasury and the DBSA for additional funding and required expertise to run the project.”

“As part of the Rooiwal upgrade project, DBSA will be an implementing agent. We will insist that none of the companies implicated in the Zondo report are appointed. The DBSA must ensure fair, transparent and competitive processes for work that needs to be done,” Brink said.

Project completion

Dr Sean Phillips, director general at the DWS, said upgrades to the Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant will be done over three phases.

He said the construction period will be over three years starting in September this year and ending in June 2026.

Cholera deaths

Meanwhile, the Mpumalanga health department has reported its first cholera death.

National Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said the woman died after she was admitted to Mmametlhake Hospital complaining of diarrhoea and nausea.

“The deceased was a 73-year-old female from Mmamethlake, which is close to Hammanskraal area.

“Members of the public are urged to remain vigilant and exercise personal hygiene, while those experiencing Cholera symptoms are urged to present themselves to the nearest health facility,” Mohale said.

Twenty-three people have so far died in Hammanskraal, and one in the Free State.

The latest death in Mpumalanga brings the total number of deaths from cholera to 25.

ALSO READ: Cholera fears as Limpopo health facilities grapple with water shortages

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Cholera Hammanskraal Tshwane water and sanitation

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