R6bn needed to fight cholera

NO ALTERNATIVE: These pupils from Mampuru village in Sekhukhune, Limpopo, quench their thirst despite warnings from school officials not to drink tap water until it has been tested for cholera. 11/02/09. Pic. Alex Matlala. © Sowetan.
NO ALTERNATIVE: These pupils from Mampuru village in Sekhukhune, Limpopo, quench their thirst despite warnings from school officials not to drink tap water until it has been tested for cholera. 11/02/09. Pic. Alex Matlala. © Sowetan.

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The Sekhukhune district municipality in Limpopo needs about R6 billion for the supply of clean water and sanitation to its 1,3million people in order to fight the spread of cholera.

The epidemic has claimed the lives of 11 people and left 29 others in a critical condition in hospitals since last month.

So serious is the situation that the area's mayoral car was recently stoned by mourners at a funeral of a villager who died of cholera.

The ward councillor's house was also burnt down by the same group after they accused her of doing nothing about the deadly disease.

Authorities believe the lack of clean water and sanitation in villages exacerbated the spread of the desease.

Greater Sekhukhune District manager and ANC provincial spokesman Ishmael Kgetjepe said aboutR6billion was needed to improve the situation.

Kgetjepe said the shortage of toilets in rural areas often forced villagers to relieve themselves in the veld.

He said when it rained the excrement is washed into rivers, contaminating them.

Sowetan can reveal that Steelpoort and Lepelle rivers tested positive to cholera earlier this year.

Kgetjepe said about 79 percent of residents in Dennilton, Leeufontein and Jane Furse had toilets and running water, while only 47 percent of residents in Grobersdaal and Burgersfort had the same services.

Meanwhile, the greater Tubatse municipality, which is the hardest hit by cholera, has set aside R2million to revamp its waste water treatment plant and construct maturation ponds.

Technical services director Bruce Mhlaba said the ponds would be completed before the beginning of next month when the water flowing into the Steelpoort River would be free from cholera.

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