Accessing clean drinking water is an uphill struggle for residents of Lebaleng township, near Wolmaransstad, North West. Residents, who say they have been without water for three years now, have dug holes around water meters and fire hydrants, desperately hoping to get water. Others are relying on manholes to quench their thirst.
The Lebaleng residents are calling for more efficient and effective government intervention, threatening to protest if the local municipality does not heed their call.
Community Representative, Letlhogonolo Meko, gives insight into the situation in Lebaleng.
“The only solution that the community resorted to is to drink the water from these two manholes because it takes about a week for the community to get water. The taps are dry. It has been more than two years and when the water is coming out it is at midnight. Yesterday we saw an 80-year-old man coming here to fetch from this main hall and that old man is far from the location. When you go to the location you will see an old lady digging a hole to get water from that whole,” says Meko.
Residents say the water is a cause for their ill health.
“I do not feel well because once we drink this water we have running stomachs because there is no water,” says one Lebaleng resident.
Another resident says, “Water is a crisis this water is dirty and we sometimes we get frogs in it because they are not closed.”
Other residents queue from sunrise with their containers hoping to access clean water from a local school but only getting water after school.
“We have buckets and they are empty and now I am hungry. I have sugar diabetes and high blood [pressure] and now we are sitting here waiting for water,” says a resident waiting for water.
“The problem is our municipality and the councillors have failed us and we voted for them. They do not do anything for us, they do not take care of us and we are suffering,” another resident added.
Maquassi Hills Local Municipality, which owes Sedibeng Water more than two hundred million Rands, says water valves have been closed, which has blocked, water supply to the community.
“Water supply in our locality is severely affected and this follows the closure of water supply valves linked to our water supplier Sedibeng Water. Now there is no water supply in our communities the closed valves make it impossible to do so. However, load shedding is not making things easy for us because sufficient water supply cannot be pumped in the reservoir servicing Leewdoringstad, Bessiefontien which alternately supplies Lebaleng,” explains Municipal Spokesperson, Teddy Diphoko.
The municipality says it is hard at work to ensure that water is restored.