Water crisis hits tiny town, prison

Kamva Mokoena

Kokstad residents have been drinking dirty water with animals for a week - thanks to water cuts in the area.

And it doesn't seem as if there's going to be any water soon.

The nearby prison is also without water and inmates are said to be vandalising the dry taps.

Area commissioner for Kokstad's C-Max Prison, James Patrick Baxter, said the inmates' reaction to the situation was unbearable.

Baxter told Sisonke district municipal mayor Patrick Khoza, his deputy, Mziwoxolo Msiya, and the Kokstad mayor, Mbulelo Sithole, about the problem during a visit to the prison on Friday.

Baxter pleaded with the municipalities to work hand-in-hand with them to resolve the problem because the situation inside the prison was deteriorating.

"It is not that difficult for us because we can buy water from town, but what about the prisoners inside there?" he asked.

Prison maintenance head, Mzimkhulu Salukazana, said he had been under extreme pressure since the water shortage started.

"Prisoners have had to use only a cup of water to wash their faces and couldn't wash their bodies for days," said Salukazana.

He said even the seven 1000litre water tanks delivered to them were insufficient.

He said the water pipe installation was poorly planned because there was only one pipe that supplied water to both prisons, C-max and the medium security prison.

Khoza said the problem was caused by a break in a pipe and that the sand used to purify water was not effective any more.

"We have to buy new sand because we have been using the same sand for 30 years," said Khoza.

He said that changing the sand would probably take a month because there was only one company that sold the sand in South Africa.