30 years without water for villagers

Lisbeth Tapala, fetches water from a hole dug in a dry riverbed in Dipere/Nong village at Bakenberg in Mokopane.
Lisbeth Tapala, fetches water from a hole dug in a dry riverbed in Dipere/Nong village at Bakenberg in Mokopane.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Broken pipes that were supposed to provide water to Dipere/Nong village in Bakenberg outside Mokopane, Limpopo, bear testimony to a dream deferred while villagers form snaking queues near a makeshift well.

This is a dire situation in which locals find themselves in, sharing drinking water with their animals.

The villagers whose area is under Mogalakwena municipality, have resorted to digging deep holes in a dry river bed to find water.

When the Sowetan team arrived at the dry river, residents had their containers lined up as they waited their turn to collect the water.

At the end of the day, they use wood to cover the water sources, to prevent animals from drinking.

Residents of Dipere/Nong village in Bakenberg outside Mokopane queue to fetch water from a well in the dry riverbed. The residents cover the wells to prevent livestock from drinking there.
Residents of Dipere/Nong village in Bakenberg outside Mokopane queue to fetch water from a well in the dry riverbed. The residents cover the wells to prevent livestock from drinking there.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Johanna Mohlake has lived in the village since 1990 and has been fetching water from the well ever since.

"It has been a struggle for me and other residents of the village as there is no water here. We had no choice but to resort to groundwater," said the 49-year-old woman.

Lisbeth Tapala, 34, said she woke up at 5am to join the queue for water.

"If I don't come here to fetch water I won't be able to cook or bath, myself and my family. The municipality does not provide us with water tankers, so we have no choice," she said.

Francina Mahwai, 79, said she nearly fell into the well while trying to fetch the water.

Malesela Selokela, spokesman for the Mogalakwena municipality, conceded they had not budgeted for the supply of water for Dipere/Nong.

"We have a problem with the mushrooming extensions in villages and this makes it difficult for us to put aside a budget for provision of water.

"However, we will make sure to provide water tankers to the villagers," Selokela said. He disputed the villagers' assertion that they had been without water for nearly 30 years.

Resident Gabriel Chipana said pipes were installed a few years ago but still villagers remain without water.

Broken water pipes in Dipere/Nong village.
Broken water pipes in Dipere/Nong village.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

"When the municipality started installing pipes in the village we thought our water problem would be a thing of the past... The municipality must start taking us serious."

Selokela said the pipes were installed in 2015 and that water was pumped from the river but the equipment has since been stolen.

The spokesman for the Department of Water Affairs Sputnik Ratau said drinking groundwater posed serious health risks to people.

"We will always be concerned about the use of groundwater which had not been tested for safety. We, however, urge people to boil the water or use bleach before drinking it," Ratau said.

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