South Africa: As Cholera Spreads, Water Tank Mafia Accused of Sabotage

Tshwane city is investigating allegations that a water tanker mafia is operating in cholera-hit Hammanskraal.

Tshwane Executive Mayor Cilliers Brink said that private operators of water tankers are capitalising on the government's failure to maintain water infrastructure and making it worse by deliberately sabotaging municipal water supply to boost their businesses.

The so-called mafia is paid between R339.45 and R433.55 per hour to deliver water that is supposed to be fetched from various sources.

The water is usually fetched at the Rand Water, Magalies Water fire hydrants as well as boreholes in Stinkwater.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Limpopo recorded its first cholera case.

The patient, a 26-year-old Zimbabwean national, reported to Musina Hospital last Friday experiencing severe symptoms, including vomiting and dehydration, according to the provincial Department of Health.

The disease, which started in Gauteng, has also spread to the Free State and North West.

The provincial chairperson of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, Lesiba Monyaki, said residents of the Thulamela Local Municipality have been complaining about the shortage of water in the area, and demanded that they be supplied with water into their houses and not by water tankers as has become a norm.

To make their point, protesters allegedly shut down the supply of water from the local Nandoni Dam in Phiphidi, which stopped the supply of water to other areas, including Thilidzini, Donald Fraser, Louis Trichardt, Elim and Malamulele hospitals.

"With the province having recorded its first case of cholera, the shortage of water in the area could spell disaster and could well be deadly for many residents should they be infected," said Monyaki.

In Gauteng province:

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Minister of Health Joe Phaahla said Tshwane is the current epicentre of the cholera outbreak.

The first reported case was of a 56-year-old male originally from Giyani, Limpopo, who resides in Musina. The patient is a police officer and was enrolled for a three-week course at the SAPS College in Hammanskraal.

By Sunday 15 May, 229 people had tested positive for cholera symptoms.

Free State Province:

The first case of the bacteria in the Free State province was in Fezile Dabi District in Ngwathe Local Municipality in the towns of Vredefort and Parys.

Phaahla said a total of 174 patients with diarrhoea were attended to at various clinics and hospitals, mainly in Parys and Boitumelo district hospitals.

"Nationally, in the seven days from 17 - 23 May, 163 patients presented at Jubilee with diarrhoea and vomiting, giving an average of 23 patients per day," he said.

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