Reitumetse Makwea
Digital Intern
3 minute read
29 Oct 2021
4:30 am

Mchunu visits Hammanskraal in a final push for votes

Reitumetse Makwea

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) declared the waste water treatment plants crisis in SA a national disaster.

Learners at Ratshepo High School in Temba rely on water trucked in every second week for drinking and cooking. The community of Hammanskraal wants the government to find a permanent solution to the water crisis in the area. Photo: Mosima Rafapa/GroundUp

The Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, will visit Hammanskraal Friday to determine what the department can do short-term to help residents get clean water, after the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) declared the waste water treatment plants crisis in SA a national disaster.

On Tuesday, the SAHRC released its report into water pollution in Tshwane, which has negatively affected Hammanskraal residents and those along the city’s water sources such as the Hennops, Apies and Pienaars rivers.

Hennops Revival’s Tarry Johnston said the river has been in a shocking state for the past two weeks.

“I received notification from the Olifantsfontein water treatment works two weeks ago that they would be releasing effluent into the river and since then, we’ve been seeing raw sewage, like cakes of sewage, flowing down the river,” Johnston said.

ALSO READ: Hammanskraal water crisis: Situation a violation of human rights, says SAHRC

She said while the smell has been unbearable, nothing can survive the water in the state that it’s in.

“It stinks, you can’t even be there for long periods of time because of the terrible smell and this is just going to carry on without any consequences or any remediation plans,” she said.

Department of water and sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said part of the pollution issue related particularly to Hammanskraal and the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant, which had been discharging substandard effluents into the Apies River.

“Therefore, this affected the water treatment works not being able to perform optimally in order to bring good quality drinking water to the people of Temba and that is the basic of the one part of our dispute with the city,” Ratau said.

“The department’s work is regulatory and part of that is looking the manner in which the treatment plants operate whether they are able to discharge effluent that is of good standard in order to go into the environment.”

According to the report, the waste water treatment plants in Tshwane have been malfunctioning and as a result, a number of rivers including Tolwane, and the Roodeplaat and Leeukraal dams were being polluted with “untreated and partially treated” sewerage and sludge.

“The commission is also aware that failing wastewater treatment waste is not confined to the Gauteng province, but is a problem nationwide, rendering rights vulnerable,” read the report.

ALSO READ: Herman Mashaba to help families of drowned Hammanskraal boys

The report also revealed that from the steps taken by the department since 2011, which efforts had been made to prevent further pollution and to try and hold the City of Tshwane to account.

The SAHRC said a sample analysis by the Magalies Water Board and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research showed horrendous levels of faecal coliforms.

Scientists found that people and animals who drink the water were vulnerable to illnesses such as bilharzia, cholera and hepatitis.

Pule Ramashala, who has been a resident of Stinkwater in Hammanskraal for more than 20 years, said for the past five years they had been subjected to dirty water and often used bottled water for drinking and cooking, while the water that comes from the tap was used to wash laundry, sanitation and cleaning.

reitumetsem@citizen.co.za