For the past week workers and community members in Umlazi have been carrying containers filled with water when they visit the government building in the Emaweleni complex.
This is because the complex's water supply has been cut off by the eThekwini municipality after the department of works failed to pay a R1,2million water bill.
Last week a member of the community almost collapsed, allegedly from dehydration, while waiting to apply for a state grant.
Emaweleni is the heart of the government's service delivery centre, where the community can apply for state grants, including old age pensions and child support grants.
Other government departments, including education, health, housing, social development and revenue services are also housed in the building.
Visitors to the building have to buy water from nearby shops and relieve themselves in nearby bushes. Workers have to beg to use the toilets at nearby businesses.
When Sowetan visited the building yesterday the notices on the toilets said "out of order, no water".
A pensioner who had come with a query about his old age pension was told to use the bush to relieve himself.
"We came here to access our state services and water is vital to those of us who travel long distances," a pensioner said. "But we are told to go and buy water from the nearby shops."
One worker said: "We are fed-up. The water was cut off last week Tuesday and no one is doing anything about it.
"We are forced to bring our own water to work."
Another worker said: "We were promised that it was a temporary problem that would be sorted out soon - but it has been going on for a whole week now.
"We are now forced to carry containers of water from our own homes."
A building manager SJ Mgobhozi put the blame on the department of public works.
He said he reported the cut-off to them but they did nothing.
Meanwhile, Sowetan has established that a similar situation prevails at the KwaMashu social development offices. The building has been without water for almost a year.
Public works spokesman Nkululeko Ngcamu asked Sowetan to send him queries about the problem.
City manager Michael Sutcliffe said he was not aware of the facts surrounding the matter but said government buildings would not be subject to the same rules as ordinary households.
"If this is the case and the bill is such then it is shocking that a government department has not paid the bill.
How can they be allowed to be so far behind in payments?