South Africa: Taps Ran Dry Over a Decade Ago in North West Village

28 February 2020

Villagers have depended on buying water from private tankers and people with wells

Residents of Mogogelo Village in Hammanskraal, North West, have been without tap water for over 12 years. For most, the day begins with loading buckets onto a wheelbarrow to collect water from residents who have sunk their own wells.

Residents pay R1 per bucket of 20 litres and R270 to fill a large tank of 2,500 litres. Private water tankers make regular rounds.

Ward 11 Councillor Michael Chauke (ANC) said Tshwane Municipality used to supply Moretele Local Municipality with water. But Moretele ended up owing millions of rands.

"We owed more than R80 million. The municipality would overspend and our residents do not pay rates like in Tshwane. It was unsustainable. Now, we have paid up the debt," said Chauke.

Annah Motiane has lived in the area for most of her life. She says she uses about six 20-litre buckets of water a day for her family of eight.

"We also store rainwater in the drums to help with the washing. If there's no rain water, we buy more water for the laundry," said Motiane.

Complicated and divided history of political squabbling

Mogogelo is divided into two sections, wards 11 and 12. According to Motiane, who lives in ward 11, after their taps ran dry, residents depended on water tankers provided by the municipality, but this was stopped after members of the National Freedom Party (NFP) discouraged them from taking the water.

"There was a lot of politics," said Motiane. "NFP had won the ward at the time [2011 election] ... Jan Mosupye assumed office and we were told not to accept the water anymore."

Former Councillor Mosupye told GroundUp that in 2013 they did stop the water tankers from delivering to residents. He said it was their way to increase pressure on the municipality. "They said there was no water but every day trucks used to line up at the municipality to fill tankers with water. Where did that water come from?" asked Mosupye.

He said residents wanted tap water in their homes, not from tankers.

Meanwhile ward 12 continued to be supplied with water by the municipality by tanker every Tuesday.

Chauke, who replaced Mosupye in the 2016 election, said: "In 2016 there was a rumour that an individual was benefiting from the water tankers and residents threatened to burn them so the municipality stopped providing them [tankers]."

He said residents of ward 12 then submitted a letter committing themselves to protect municipal resources, which is why they were supplied with water, while ward 11 was not.

Wait till 2021?

Chauke said a water project in Klipdrift is expected to be completed in February 2021. "Mogogelo residents will [then] get the supply of water permanently," he said.

Moretele Municipality spokesperson Mothupi Malebye did not respond to questions as to why the taps had run dry. He said the R400 million Klipdrift water project started in 2018.

Spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation Sputnik Ratau did not respond to GroundUp's questions.

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