South Africa: Taps Run Dry in Sweetwaters

11 October 2018

Last week, the taps ran dry for five days in Sweetwaters, Pietermaritzburg. Residents say this was not the first time. They have been struggling with water for years and their situation is getting worse.

The ward councillor, Sibusiso Mtshali, blames the problem on increased demand for water due to new arrivals in Zayeka East location.

"We now hold night vigils and wait for water. There is no water during the day. Water always comes back at night around 11pm when everyone is sleeping," says resident Ntokozo Ntshingila.

Some residents walk over three kilometres to a stream where residents have connected a pipe. The stream runs between houses and the residents say the water is polluted. "It makes us sick but there's nothing we can do," says Nikeziwe Mdladla.

Jabu Mhlongo said she fills five 20-litre buckets at the stream each day. "Sometimes you would find cow dung near the stream. It's clear that cows and goats drink in that stream. The problem has been going on for a long time. It is worsening instead of getting better ... Water is a basic need. We can't live without water," said Mhlongo.

Msunduzi Municipality referred GroundUp to the ward councillor. Mtshali said he has requested a water tanker to supply the local school because the school has also been affected by the water crisis.

"We are a rural area and we find more people coming to live in our location. The number of people is growing. The available water infrastructure is now not enough. We cannot deny that we also have ageing infrastructure. Application for new infrastructure may take longer than expected," said Mtshali. He appealed to residents to be patient.

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