'If you live in Diepsloot you never know when there will be water'

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

Grace Mkhari of Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, has to walk half-a-kilometre to fetch water from a tanker supplied by the council.

Mkhari, like other residents, has had to live for three months without a constant supply of water. There have been interruptions to their water supply since December.

"Sometimes the water supply comes back on, but only for an hour or two. Sometimes there is no water for two or three days. Then the water tanker arrives and the council workers park it on the outskirts of the township. The queues of people waiting to collect water are always long," Mkhari said.

Diepsloot is divided into a government low-cost housing scheme and a sprawling shack settlement.

According to some of the residents, area councillor Jan Mahlangu has told some of them that the problem was as a result of developers' construction work at the nearby Waterfall Estate.

He has said that the main pipe affected five others that supply water to Diepsloot and the surrounding areas.

Residents said yesterday that the water supply was usually cut between 7am and 10pm.

Yesterday the water tanker failed to arrive, but residents still lined up with their water containers, hoping it would. But they waited in vain.

"We can't use the toilets; we have to relieve ourselves in the bush," Mkhari said.

"Those women who have babies are forced to keep soiled nappies for days because they cannot do the washing."

Mkhari met the Sowetan team while she was on her way to see if there was any water at her brother's home, about half-a-kilometre from her home.

She said she wasn't sure that he had any, but she was desperate. She said if he didn't have any water then she didn't know what she would do.

Liberty Dube, of Extension 2 informal settlement, also returned home without water because the tanker didn't arrive.

On Wednesday Mpho Moremi said one of his friends had given him water, but he didn't know how long it would last him and his family.

But, said Moremi, when he went to bed that night there was still no water on opening the taps but "when I woke up this morning [yesterday] the water was flowing. I don't know how long it will last.

"It could be cut off at any time. There are lots of meetings about all sorts of problems affecting us but no one ever mentions the water," Moremi said.

"We hear stories that the water cuts are caused by burst pipes but no official, including the councillor, has told us what the problem actually is," he said.

Moremi said when things get too desperate he hires transport and fetches water from the garages in Fourways, a few kilometres from Diepsloot.

When Sowetan called Mahlangu he asked us to call him again in 10 minutes because he was fixing his car.

But Mahlangu continued to be evasive, eventually not answering any further calls.