Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Striking Bushbuckridge Water Board workers turned off the taps to more than 500000 Mpumalanga residents on Sunday night.

By late yesterday they were still without water in the blistering summer sun.

Sources said the entire Nsikazi area, which includes KaNyamazane and Pienaar near Nelspruit, KaBokweni near White River and Shabalala near Hazyview, is without water.

"We are talking aboutmore than 500000 people without water," a source said.

Silulumanzi, a private company responsible for supplying water and sanitation services to parts of the Mbombela municipality, said its hands were tied.

Spokesman Richmond Jele said the company regretted the developments.

"We apologise to our customers for this situation, but it is totally beyond our control," Jele said.

"We hope the situation will be resolved quickly by the Bushbuckridge Water Board."

The Water Board's CEO, Mapholoba Letsoalo, was not available for comment.

He was said to be engaged in a "long" meeting with stakeholders in a bid to resolve the situation.

Mbombela municipality spokesman Vusi Sibiya also confirmed the crisis and said the municipality was in the process of engaging with the Water Board to "quickly resolve whatever dispute" there is.

"We are engaging the board management to resolve whatever the dispute is as soon as possible because it is affecting all of us."

The strikers are demanding, among other things, that CEO Solomon Mathebula, who has been suspended, be returned to work and that certain incentives be paid with immediate effect.

Mathebula was suspended after allegations that he, among other things, used a bulldozer belonging to the Water Board for private purposes.