South Africa: Vhembe Municipality Leaves Broken Sewerage Pipe for Six Months

20 September 2019

Residents of Lufule village near Thohoyandou in Limpopo say they have been waiting for six months for the Vhembe district municipality to fix a broken sewerage system.

Residents say municipal workers did come in July to dig a trench but since then nothing has been done and the trench has filled with filthy water. "We have been patient for a long time," says Thivhileli Mutobvu one of the Lufule 1 community members.

When GroundUp enquired, Matodzi Ralushai, Vhembe District Communication Officer said a meeting had been held with community leaders this week and the leaders had been told that a contractor had been appointed. "We expect the contractor to attend to the issue very soon," he said. Ralushai did not explain why this had taken so long.

The burst sewage pipe is a couple of meters away from some Lufule 1 houses. Sewage from the burst pipe flows into the Luludi river that cuts through Lufule 2 village.

Mutobvu says the community has reported several times to Vhembe municipality without success.

"This sewage pipe has been like that for more than six months and we have been reporting to the municipality but nothing has happened."

Elisa Muthaphuli, 62, who fell into the sewage-filled trench last week, told Groundup she usually jumped over the trench on her way back from the other end of the village where she made bricks for sale. "Last week as usual I tried to hop over the flowing sewage but unfortunately fell into the deep hole full of sewage. I was alone. I was almost shoulder deep in the sewage. All I could do was cry for help. After a time someone rescued me."

In the trench she lost the axe and panga she uses to cut wood to fire her bricks.

"When I got home I had to throw my clothes away. I hope the municipality will fix this as a matter of urgency before we lose lives at this place," says Muthapula.

We were shown the sewage flowing all the way to the Luludi River. Rumani Mudau from Lufule 2 was busy clearing an area next to the river to plant vegetables. He had not known the water contained sewage but had often found dirt in the river.

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