A service delivery protest disrupted traffic on the R61 between Mthatha and Libode in the Eastern Cape on Monday morning. The residents of Mdlankomo village next to the R61 are demanding clean water from the OR Tambo District Municipality. The police intervened and dispersed the crowd.

The outraged community of Mdlankomo and Mchonco blockaded the R61 road in the early hours demanding the OR Tambo District Municipality to give reasons why water taps are closed. They say they are forced to fetch unhygienic water from the stream. They allege the municipality of depriving the poor rural people of clean water.

Community leader Lwandile Dlanaye says they want the municipality to give reasons why there is no water in the villages.

“We want water. This municipality cut off the supply of water to our villages. This protest seeks to draw the attention of the municipality. We are desperate for water. It has been a month now without water.”

Phakamile Nyamazana says they have been writing letters to the municipality but no response is forthcoming.

“We wrote a letter to this municipality but they are ignoring us. It’s not because there is no water in our water taps, but the municipality decided to just cut off the water supply. That is (why) we are demanding answers from them.”

These villagers have vowed to continue fighting for their rights.

“We are drinking dirty, water, contaminated with pampers. The mayor is not listening to us. They just deployed the police to shoot us. We do not have water since the beginning of the scourge of COVID-19. We need water! rtat’s all we want from the municipality.”

OR Tambo District Municipality says it has quickly restored water service to the community after a fact-finding mission as to why other people were not accessing water in the area.

Zimkhitha Macingwane is the municipality’s spokesperson.

“Shortage of water is due to illegal connections, but I can confirm that water has been restored to the village. The district municipality was on a fact finding mission as to why Ward 7 and Ward 8 was not having a shortage of water supply and it has been established that illegal connections are the cause for some parts of the community not getting adequate water service.”

Water scarcity in the rural areas OR Tambo and Alfred Ndzo District Municipalities is a great concern that continues to expose people’s life to health hazards.