Poisoned water scare for villagers
About a million people are risking their health by using contaminated water for their household needs.
The residents of villages in and around Jane Furse in the Sekhukhuni area of Limpopo have been using contaminated water since machines used to pump water from a dam were damaged in December.
"Life has become unbearable in our area. We are forced to use water also used by wild animals for cooking.
"We try to boil the water before cooking in order to kill opportunistic deceases such as bilharzia," said resident Jane Selepe yesterday.
Pupils are said to be carrying water in small containers to school.
Some of the affected villages are Riverside, Vergelegen, Ditsheun, Madibong, Hanesengani and Jane Furse Ext-B. Hospitals that also face the problem are St Ritas, New Jane Furse and Old Jane Furse.
Schools and other government institutions such as police stations have also been hit hard by the shortage.
Those using flush toilets now go to the bush to respond to the call of nature.
Selepe's words were echoed by another resident, Peter Sekele, whose daughter and wife were allegedly robbed of a cellphone and their clothes while en route to a nearby river to fetch water last week.
Sekele said since the water crisis in their area, the rate of crime had also increased.
"Our people are being robbed of their valuables while walking long distances to fetch water. Some of the women are raped while those who refuse to cooperate are assaulted," Sekele said.
Technical services director in Makhudu-Thamaga municipality, Papi Mbe, confirmed the crisis and said the municipality was working on it.
"We are currently delivering water in tanks to the affected villages but the amount we deliver is just a drop in the ocean. We have now prioritised hospitals and schools until the crisis has been addressed," Mbe said.
But he said it was not clear when new machines would be bought to bring the situation to normal.