‘Provision of basic services will be improved in Emfuleni’

President Cyril Ramaphosa on a guided tour of the Sebokeng Waste Water Treatment plant.
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President Cyril Ramaphosa says the provision of basic services will be improved in the Emfuleni Municipality. The President led the District Development Model (DDM) engagement with stakeholders in the municipality.

The area has long since battled with service delivery challenges, whilst residents lament about the sewage running through the streets.

In 2020, the municipality had its property attached, enforcing a Gauteng High Court judgment for the non-payment of more than R600-million debt owed to Eskom.

I have been living here for 15 years, and I have been experiencing the same problem. Even as you see the hole here, there is a pipe that has been blocked here. If a child falls here, we won’t see them. I even broke the paving to allow the water to get out because the water was approaching the stoep, and the painful thing for me is that I have a child who is living with a disability who is using a pipe that they use to eat, so everything that is happening here is affecting her. It means nothing is working here; even when we try, nothing is getting better,” says one resident.

A resident of Evaton in the Emfuleni Municipality says they have been battling with sewage for more than 15 years. Mduduzi Mkhonza says he has a child, lives with disabilities and is affected by the running sewage in the streets.

In 2021, the South African Human Rights Commission released a report – finding prima facie violations of human rights in the Emfuleni Municipality regarding the flow of raw, untreated sewage.

It flows in the streets, homes, graveyards, and also into the Vaal River. However, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu says progress has been made.

“At no stage have we reached this level of cleaning up and fixing sanitation infrastructure and water infrastructure. It’s the first time we’ve reached this level. Possibly Emfuleni has no capacity in the foreseeable future to take off from where Rand Water would’ve left. We’re talking about a number of… under them that will do the job, so there is no failure at all. We are making progress.” 

The President engaged with various stakeholders, including technicians at the Sedibeng Waste Water Treatment Plant, saying progress has been made in the provision of water to residents. Infrastructure in the municipality is also dilapidated, leading to roads riddled with potholes.

Ramaphosa travelled on some of these roads, adding that a project to tackle the municipality’s infrastructure challenges will be launched.

“Good work is being done, and many of them spoke very positively about the progress that is under way here, and in a few months we will be on top of this problem. I travelled for a portion of my journey on a really bad gravel road, and we are going to embark on a project as well to redo the roads to make sure that we do, in the end, give our people a better and a decent life.”

There have been various interventions to create better living conditions for the community in the municipality. In 2018, the SANDF was deployed to the area amid complaints of raw sewage by residents, but it seems that five years later, there is little to show for this intervention.

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