The Human Rights Commission wants government to do away with the water tankering system. The commission says the system encourages corruption and compromises the supply of water to the neediest communities.

Residents of Tambo Square in Dennilton in the Sekhukhuni District Municipality in Mpumalanga, are struggling to access water – a hardship many say has been part of their lives for over twenty years.

Many have to beg for water from neighbours with boreholes in their yards. Human Rights Commissioner, Mahomed Shafik-Amirmeer, says water tankering is not providing a proper solution.

“In many places, there’s no water like Limpopo and we are worried. But there are dams with millions of liters of water. You can fill a sea but yet 1.2 million are held to water tankering. So we welcome the announcement by the minister that they are going to bust on those people who are holding communities to ransom on the water tankering. Water tankering is not a solution but a short term solution”.

Residents say the shortage of water is making life unbearable. In the past, they staged numerous protests to highlight their plight, but that proved to be an exercise in futility.

“We haven’t got water here. They told us water will be coming but it’s now almost a year. The only water we get is from Dr Templeman who has made his borehole available for us. We are struggling and we fetch water very far. And now coronavirus is here. We don’t have water to wash our hands”.

Earlier, the government indicated that it will prioritize water services to over two-thousand communities who are experiencing water supply challenges. However, Water Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says it remains the primary responsibility of the respective municipalities.

“Well, the permanent solution is very much in the hands of the municipalities. But what we do is we hold and secure the national water for this country and give it to municipalities to make sure it reaches the communities. And I do know the situation in Moutse I’ve been there myself and the people are concerned”.

A spokesperson for the Sekhukhuni District Municipality, Moloko Moloto, says they’re working on a number of solutions which include the drilling of boreholes and installation of additional water tanks.

“And we continue to fill those tanks with our six trucks which we have specifically for Moutse. However, we acknowledge that those trucks are not enough. So before the end of this week we would’ve added five more trucks and twenty more trucks before end of June. So all the areas of Moutse are going to benefit”.

A total budget of R143-million has been allocated for water supply services in that municipality. But for now, for many residents to practise basic hygiene such as regularly washing their hands, is simply a big ask.