'We share drinking water with animals'

Masoka Dube

Masoka Dube

Residents of Marite Trust in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, run the risk of contracting diseases if they continue drinking filthy water from wells they share with animals.

Worried resident Pule Maimane said: "It is true that we share our drinking water with animals. Most of the time the water is muddy because the animals get into the well on all fours. I once spent two days without drinking water after a dog was killed and thrown into the well.

"What amazes me is the fact that new taps were installed in 2003, but we have not seen a single drop of water coming out of them."

Maimane added that they were often forced to hire vehicles to ferry "clean" water from surrounding areas.

"The owners of these vehicles usually charge us R150 to fetch water from surrounding villages," said Maimane Bushbuckridge local municipality spokesman Matome Malatji said the problem of water was a major challenge facing the council.

"We will investigate the residents' complaints. We will instal a tank as a temporary solution," Malatji said.

"We are waiting for the Inyaka Dam project to be completed. Once the dam is on stream, we will be able to supply the whole of Bushbuckridge with clean water.

"I would like to urge residents to consult their ward councillors if they have problems. This will make it easier for us to know about their problems," Malatji added.

Last month three women allegedly fell to their deaths in a well at Nkomo village, Acornhoek, while searching for water.

Bushbuckridge residents are fuming after hearing that the Mpumalanga government has allocated more than R22million to a play to celebrate local ANC hero Gert Sibande.

Sibande, locally referred to as the Lion of the East, led a prolonged potato boycott in the Bethal area in the last century.

Residents have even threatened to approach the SA Human Rights Commission to launch an investigation into "continued human rights abuses by the provincial government".

In 2005, the municipality allegedly allocated more than R23million for development and infrastructure.

Residents said lack of clean water was their most pressing problem. They said they had been promised that all water supply projects would be completed by the end of 2006. However, when Sowetan visited the areas around Bushbuckridge, people were still fetching water from wells.