News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
15 Sep 2017
6:10 am

Fight for clean water turns dirty

Ilse de Lange

Elandskraal residents wants the mayor jailed for contempt of court as the water supply has become extremely sporadic.

Tap file picture.

Residents of five Limpopo villages, who have been battling for years to get a proper water supply, have appealed to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane to help them.

Elandskraal community leader Dirkie Mahlokwane said the situation was dire and villages had to walk long distances to fetch water from crocodile-infested rivers, putting their safety and health at risk.

He said the situation improved somewhat since the Wits University’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies became their lawyers about two years ago, but things deteriorated again over the past two weeks.

“With the minister involved, maybe we can get help, because it looks like we’re talking to dead people. We don’t get any good answer and no results. Maybe the minister can put pressure on them,” Mahlokwane said.

“From 2009 is too long to wait for water. People were eaten by crocodiles. It was very bad.”

The villagers first went to court in 2015, whereafter the municipality provided a limited water supply in water tanks. They went back to court last month to compel the municipality to provide them with an adequate interim water supply.

A dam was built in the area and the municipality agreed to provide extra water tanks and to fill the tanks each day. It also promised to give them water through the reticulation system twice a week.

Their lawyer, Zeenat Sujee, said they returned to court yesterday seeking to imprison the executive mayor and municipal manager for contempt of court as the water supply had become extremely sporadic.

Judge Hans Fabricius said he was not inclined to grant a contempt order because of affidavits filed by the municipality in which they denied acting in bad faith.

They said they only now had a full grasp of what was necessary, but lacked the necessary resources.

The judge asked how it would help the villagers to get water if he imprisoned the officials for a week and said it might be the time to send all the court orders to the water affairs minister for her consideration as the municipality seemed to lack resources.

Sujee said the contempt order was postponed indefinitely and the matter would be referred to the minister, but the court still had oversight over the case and they could return to court if the municipality continued to disregard the court order to which they had consented. –