'Widespread diarrhoea not from water'

Kamogelo Seekoei

Kamogelo Seekoei

It has been two weeks since a spate of diarrhoea broke out in Delmas, Mpumalanga, and the health department has yet to determine the cause.

So far 648 people have been treated for diarrhoea and six children are being monitored for high fever.

Health spokesman Mpho Gabashane said they have tested all possibilities and none of the tests proved that the water from boreholes was contaminated.

The only advice given to residents was to boil water before consumption. But the community is not satisfied and wants answers from the authorities.

They said the authorities are failing to tell them the truth and that the same problem that caused the typhoid outbreak in 2005 is responsible for this bout of diarrhoea.

Walter Marokane of the Botleng Crisis Committee queried the number of times people had to boil water. He said authorities should solve the problem rather than fob off residents with a boiling-water solution.

"That is not going to solve our long-term problems," he said. "The municipality is not telling us the truth. People are still being affected by the dirty water."

In 2005 Delmas had a typhoid outbreak that was caused by human waste in one of its boreholes.

Authorities, however, said there was no scientific proof that the two outbreaks were linked and that the municipality had dealt with the problem.

"So far all the water tests that we have conducted do not show that the water is the cause of the problem," said Gabashane.

He said they had conducted tests for bacteria such as e.coli and salmonella, and for viruses, that had proved tap water in the region was not contaminated.

"We thought the tests would show a problem during the chlorification process but did not. So the water is not the cause."

Gabashane said they were going to intensify their health education in the community.