Office of Public Protector to investigate sewage issues in several Northern Cape towns

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Sewage spills, water leaks, and a lack of water have made life a living nightmare for residents of several Northern Cape towns. The issues have been blamed on deteriorating infrastructure and a lack of maintenance.

A number of towns in the Northern Cape have been battling severe sewage spillages for quite some time.

Residents in some municipalities including Dikgatlong, Sol Plaatje and Magareng among others are outraged,

Over the constant stench in their areas, residents complain that they have been living under these dire circumstances for years.

Concerned residents

One concerned resident says, “They must come and fix the manhole because when it’s summer you can’t take the smell you can’t even open the doors and windows because the smell is not nice too. So, we just want the municipal to come and fix this place that’s all we want as the community.”

Another concerned resident says, “My uncle is an old man who has become sick, he had TB, so I had to move into my grandmother’s place because of this place. Even the two kids, two brothers and a sister at home become sick now and then. So, this place is really, really, really killing us we can’t take this anymore.”

“They must listen. They don’t take note of us,” adds another resident.

While some residents complain about sewage spillages and the resulting stench, water leaks and water cuts have also become a constant challenge. Leaking pipes cost the provincial government millions of Rands to fix.

“Our roads are not fine; the water has been leaking for quite some time. Yesterday whereby we call the people of the waterworks but they don’t arrive. You call the people of sanitation so what are we supposed to do? We cannot even depend on the people that are supposed to do the jobs,” claims another resident.

“It’s very dangerous, the water gets into our own yards and our walls are falling. We need help,” expresses one resident.

Over 60% of South Africa’s sewage and wastewater treatment works in a “poor to critical” state:

Political parties’ response

In May, the DA in the Northern Cape opened a case of contravening the National Water Act against the Renosterberg local municipality’s Mayor and Municipal Manager.

The party accused the two of negligence, pertaining to sewage spillages into the Vanderkloof Dam.

DA leader in the Northern Cape, Harold McGluwa says, “They are actually allowing that raw sewage flows into the fund the two of them. As I said, it’s not simply a matter of water and sanitation, it is also an environmental hazard for the people of the roster balance ability. We have seen even the trucks because there’s no diesel for the trucks that they’d be close next to the road.”

The acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka acknowledged that sewer blockages remain a massive and ongoing challenge for the people of the Northern Cape.

During her visit to Kimberley, she indicated that authorities must speed up the work to fix the blockages and drain overflowing water next to the troubled R31.

Video – Northern Cape residents troubled by sewage spillages:

Public Protector’s investigation

Acting Public Protector, Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka says, “Investigation is at an advanced stage and the good thing now is that the government has committed to give us their responses, as in terms of the plans that they put in place of the work that’s already been done and the outstanding work and the time frames for the outstanding working for the damn. They said it would be about 6 months. So as soon as we get that, we should be able to put together an analysis process and finalise the investigation.”

The Human Rights Commission was also roped in to investigate the sewage challenges in the province. It said these problems were a violation of human rights.

Human Rights Commission acting Provincial Manager Anthony Wyngaard says, “we have received complaints from Kimberley, Platfontein and Richie. The complaints have been addressed to the municipality with no response. We are collecting more information to assist in having a public hearing in the Francis Baard district. This will deal with systematic complaints Pampierstad, Hartswater, Jan Kempdorp, Warrenton and Kimberley.”

The Northern Cape government says it is working around the clock to put adequate infrastructure in place.

Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul says, “It’s historical challengers the bulk infrastructure network in Kimberley was designed only for 12,000 households. You know it’s about the sewer network which was designed in order to provide a flushing toilet to white communities but with the post-1994 dispensation, we expanded his services to previously disadvantaged communities. Currently, in Sol Plaatje just in Kimberley alone, we are sitting with more than 60 000 households connected to a bulk infrastructure which has got upgraded. You sit with hydraulic overflows simply because of pressure that cannot be contained by the bulk infrastructure.”

Admitting these challenges, the provincial government said it was hopeful of addressing the problems. It said it would be spending billions of Rands to fix its ailing infrastructure.

Video – Sewage spill leaves residents concerned: