Car wash owners, gardeners and farmers in Limpopo could face harsh punishment for watering their gardens and washing their cars, as the drought-stricken Mopani district municipality’s dams have run dry.
Last week it was forced to stop pumping water from the Middle Letaba Dam due to low water levels. Some boreholes have dried up and collapsed.
Executive mayor Pule Shayi said the municipality was reviewing its bylaws to allow law enforcement agencies to clamp down on those who transgressed stringent water restrictions.
“The draft … will be presented in the next council sitting for approval,” he said.
Another serious problem Shayi faced was illegal connections, which were affecting the volumes and quality of water, and millions of litres were lost to leaks.
“In the Greater Giyani municipality … a prominent community member allegedly connects water from our pipeline networks to households in Risinga View, Mavalani, Xikukwani and others. We want that person to desist from doing that.
“We also want to issue a stern warning to car wash business operators and private water tanker operators who draw water from our fire hydrants.
“We have also heard an outcry by the Lenyenye community that experiences water shortages due to illegal connections that have damaged our pipeline from the Thabina Water Works,” he said.
He said R107.7 million had been reserved for maintenance from the municipality’s 2019-20 operating budget and they didn’t want to have to channel this money towards repairs due to illegal connections.
However, the mayor’s warning was dismissed by emerging small businesses in Mopani.
“You must go and tell Shayi that he is daydreaming, like his father Cyril Ramaphosa, who also told parliament during the State of the Nation address that he had a dream,” said one car wash owner in Ga-Motupa after hearing about the bylaw.
“How does Shayi plan to feed us and create jobs for us when he calls for our arrest when we wash our cars.”
Thalaza Molewa of Relela village said Shayi must concentrate on building dams to store water during rainy days instead of forcing bylaws on job scavengers.
Others advised Shayi to approach the Modjadji royal family, renowned for their supernatural rain-making powers, to speak to their ancestors to bring rain.