South Africa: No Plans to Close Rhodes Due to Water Crisis

12 February 2019

Rhodes University has refuted reports that it is about to shut down due to a water crisis.

"Contrary to recent media reports, Rhodes University is not about to shut down. Treated water is being supplied from Settlers Dam. While the dam level is very low, the university is closely monitoring the situation and has thrown its full weight behind the plan to prolong this supply for as long as possible, as per the water crisis plan released by the municipality," the university said in a statement.

The university said a plan has been developed for a scenario where Settlers Dam were to run dry, "in which case, treated water will be supplied to the entire city on a rotational basis from Glen Melville Dam via the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works (JKWTW)".

The university said it has been working closely with various arms of government and Makana Municipality to get JKWTW functioning optimally prior to the potential Settlers Dam outage.

"The university is obviously concerned about the recent shut down of JKWTW due to inflows of highly turbid water and is liaising with the relevant authorities in this regard. The university is also assisting with the supply of clean water to communities on the eastern side of town," the university said.

Regarding the statement issued by Rhodes University Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, which states that Rhodes University will have to close its doors, the university noted that attention is drawn to the fact that the original statement indicates that this will only happen in the absence of reasonable water sources.

The university said it is monitoring the situation very closely.

TUT suspends activities in campuses

Meanwhile, activities at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria West and Arcadia campuses have been suspended following protest action on Tuesday morning.

Campuses in Pretoria, Ga-Rankuwa, Arts, Arcadia and eMalahleni experienced disruptions on Monday due to issues predominantly related to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and student accommodation.

The university said the management will engage with student representatives about issues put forward for each of the affected campuses.

No incidents were reported at the Soshanguve or Polokwane Campuses on Monday, and activities were expected to resume on Tuesday.

"The Mbombela campus remains closed until further notice following protest action experienced there last week. The university apologises for the inconvenience caused and will issue regular updates as verified information is received," the university said.

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