Waterblues vs blue water

On the back of over 30 cholera-related deaths in Hammanskraal, there are growing concerns about water quality in South Africa

It’s like the start of a very bad joke: Did you hear the one about the man who went to Hammanskraal and told them their water was bad?

Shame, he said; you should boil your water, he said.  But we have no electricity, they replied – no water, no electricity, no jobs.

That man was the president, our own dear Uncle Cyril. And now on the back of over 30 cholera-related deaths in Hammanskraal, there are growing concerns about water quality in South Africa generally.


After all, tap water was always drinkable in many areas, more than drinkable in fact: as my dad would have proudly told anyone sitting next to him at the pub quiz in Benoni, Rand Water was among the best in the world.

He was a chemist with a special interest in water purification. The sheer ridiculousness of unnecessary bottled water made him furious: the waste, the plastic, the pollution, the price.

His passion became mine, so much so that I was given the bum’s rush out of a restaurant in Sandton several years ago – place on the Square; sells expensive steak to tourists – for insisting that I did not want “still or sparkling,” but “tap.”

The duty manager told me SA’s tap water was bad. I knew it wasn’t. He wouldn’t even let the waiter give me a glass so I could fetch water from the bathroom. Sadly, my dad died in 2020, so now I no longer have his insider input.

ALSO READ: Cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal ‘very urgent’ – Mchunu

Blue Drop Water Report

Happily – because we must take our pleasures where we can – the preliminary results of the new Blue Drop Watch report has been released by the department of water and sanitation.

The good news is that someone’s still checking. The bad news is it’s not looking great. There’s a water lottery, with half of water supply systems doing poorly, while half are in good shape.

Water supply

Pretoria – Tshwane – is a perfect representation with its dual water supplies: one is dire (hello Hammanskraal!) while the other is excellent.

My dad would be pleased that Ekurhuleni – aka the East Rand – still has excellent tap water. And if you’re requesting tap water in Sandton, the City of Joburg still comes up trumps too.

I’m delighted, because I’d hate that long ago water weasel to finally be right. Also, there’s no electricity for boiling…

ALSO READ: DWS report reveals sharp decline in water services

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cholera Cyril Ramaphosa Hammanskraal water

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