Dan Fuphe and Sapa
The initial cause of the diarrhoea outbreak in Delmas was water contamination, said Mpumalanga Premier Thabang Makwetla yesterday.
"When the outbreak was reported last month, we discovered that the water was contaminated."
But Makwetla said more cases were reported after the water was purified to meet quality standards. Makwetla, accompanied by four of the province's MECs, visited Delmas for the latest update on the outbreak by health officials.
MECs on the Premier's entourage were Mandla Masuku, public works department; CandithMashego-Dlamini, local government and housing; Dina Pule, agriculture and land administration; and Sipho Lubisi, health and social services.
Addressing a media conference, Makwetla said the 842 cases reported had fluctuated from between eight and 80 daily.
"From October 22, the pattern has been fluctuating. In November 14, the number stood at 37 cases. The report from hospitals was that the victims were not serious and did not warrant hospitalisation," he said.
Makwetla also revealed that the Delmas Municipality had engaged the universities of Pretoria and Johannesburg to run tests on fruits, milk and stools in a bid to check the severity of the outbreak.
He further added that the erection of the R53million Rand Water pipe would run parallel with the building of the purification plant currently under construction.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Botleng township residents will next week stage a 3km protest march to the Delmas Municipality offices.
Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, Walter Marokana, the organiser of the Botleng Crisis Committee, said plans for the march were already at an advanced stage.
"Apart from my group, we will also be joined by members of the Concerned Group and several other supporters.
"The aim of the march, which transcends any form of political agenda, will be to drum up support for the quick and total eradication of diarrhoea in our area once and for all," Marokana said.
In 2005, during the height of the cholera epidemic in the area which claimed the lives of at least five people, a similar protest march degenerated into mayhem and turned violent when hundreds of angry youths clashed with police and pelted the municipality office with stones.
Several people, mostly the elderly, were injured when police retaliated by firing rubber bullets at the crowd.