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Rural folk depend on groundwater drawn from local river's dry bed

By Boitumelo Tshehle | 2017-10-12 17:19:49.0

  • GaKhunwana resident Sister Matlawe draws water from a river as communual taps ran dry a year ago. Photo: Tiro Ramatlhatse

  • GaKhunwana resident Kuli Lebakeng draws water from a river as communual taps ran dry a year ago. Photo: Tiro Ramatlhatse

  • Pensioner Anna Machuisa goes home with empty buckets from a local tap in Gakhunwana. Photo: Tiro Ramatlhatse

  • GaKhunwana resident Rebecca Lebakeng draws water from a river as communual taps ran dry a year ago. Photo: Tiro Ramatlhatse

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It is a sunny and windy early afternoon in GaKhunwana village in North West.

Kuli Lebakeng puts on her shoes, takes a 10-litre bucket, a small bowl and heads to a dry river about 500 metres from her home in the Tswaing local municipality.

At the Shepane river, Lebakeng uses the bowl to dig a hole about 40cm deep into the dry river bed until groundwater appears. Lebakeng smiles.

"This is how we do it, I must quickly draw water to give others a chance to also get some," Lebakeng said.

She's one of 6000 people in the village who go for days without water after taps ran dry in February last year.

Those who can afford it, buy water from neighbours who have boreholes in their yards.

Residents expressed their frustration with the municipality, saying they reported the matter to no avail.

"We went [to Shepane] and found that it still had water underground," said another resident Mdu Phiritshwane.

He said they started digging and realised that the water was clean and drinkable.


"We use it to cook and drink and we do not get sick," he said.

Livestock, including pigs, also drink from the river too.

"This is how we live, we drink water with pigs and cows," said Sister Matlawe.

Local councillor Sehularo Moremedi said only four of the 104 communal taps in the village were working.

He said the village had eight water-pumping engines and 104 water taps.

"All these engines are broken, I have reported our problem to the municipality and they keep promising to help, we don't know when," Moremedi said. He said the municipality had arranged a water tanker truck to deliver water in their village but everything stopped after the driver died.

"It lasted for a week and the driver died. Since then, no one came to give us water," Moremedi said.

Ngaka Modiri Molema district municipality councillor Kelebemang Mathakathaka, who is responsible for water in GaKhunwana, said the matter would be solved before the end of the week.

"We are looking at the problem and this week some of our officials will go and fix the engines in that village so that the residents can get water," he said.

District spokeswoman Lehlogonolo March said Sedibeng Water was contracted to fix the eight water pumping engines.

Spokesman of Sedibeng Water Tiro Mahlakoleng said they would have to check if the "area was within the scope". He said a subcontractor that was appointed abandoned work after it was not paid, adding that they were looking into the matter.