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Thieves have stolen the only equipment that pumps water for the more than 2000 villagers in Sikhunyani, outside Giyani in Limpopo.
The water pump was stolen at the weekend.
As a result, members of the community have been forced to draw water from the river where domestic animals drink.
The community is baffled as to how the device was removed and carried away. It is a large heavy machine that can only be removed in a bakkie or truck.
The community discovered the pump was gone when they woke up on Saturday morning.
Community leaders have suggested that the machine might have been dismantled and its pieces loaded on to a truck or bakkie.
Lucy Maluleke, a community leader, yesterday said they feared disease would come back to plague the community because they would have to drink unpurified water from dams and rivers.
"Two days without a reliable water supply is like two months. We desperately need that pump back," Maluleke said. "We have to find a way of getting clean water quickly."
If necessary, said Maluleke, they might have to approach the Department of Water Affairs to help them.
Though police couldn't say who was behind the theft, they said they were looking at all possibilities.
But the community is not sitting still either. It has engaged the services of a sangoma to identify the thieves.
Hundreds of residents, including young people, attended a hastily arranged meeting to discuss the crisis yesterday.
Headman Joseph Nkuna yesterday told Sowetan that the community was really angry because the precious water supply for 2000 people, including children, had dried up.