'Farmers steal water from the Vaal River'

Sipho Masombuka

Sipho Masombuka

Studies conducted by several consulting firms have found that farms along the Ash-Liebenbergsvlei - which receive water flowing from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project - could be taking much more than their registered share of run-of-river water.

The studies show that water usage in the Vaal River System for irrigation increased by more than 100percent between 1998 and 2005 for the area upstream of the Vaal Dam.

Shockingly, the studies have found that the amount of water stolen by farmers from the Vaal River equals the amount of water currently in Mohale Dam.

Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry Lindiwe Hendricks told journalists at a pre-budget press conference on Friday that their biggest challenge in dealing with water thieves was lack of policing and monitoring capacity.

But Hendricks was quick to point that she had a responsibility to protect water resources against illegal users.