Residents walk into voting stations to fetch water

Taps in Etwatwa had been dry for days

Residents of Etwatwa lining up for water near Phandimfundo Secondary School during elections, residents say they wont vote because they don't have water.
Residents of Etwatwa lining up for water near Phandimfundo Secondary School during elections, residents say they wont vote because they don't have water.
Image: Thulani Mbele

While millions of South Africans queued up to vote on Monday, residents of Etwatwa in Ekurhuleni were queuing up for  water.

Supply disruptions in the area have left the community without a drop coming out of their taps for the last four days. 

In Barcelona section, dozens of residents formed a long queue at Silindokuhle Primary School from very early in the morning to collect water from tankers provided by authorities. 

South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) regional secretary in Ekurhuleni, Eric Mahlangu, said attempts to get some in the community to vote yesterday failed.

"We have not had water in four days. This is the first time that Etwatwa has not come out in their numbers to vote in the history of this democracy," said Mahlangu. 

He said water scarcity had been a challenge in the area for the past four months. 

Children, women, and the elderly lined the streets carrying buckets, some pushing dustbins and wheelbarrows to collect water from the two water trucks that have been provided.

Mahlangu said some parents opted not to vote, angry that their children did not have water during exams time. 

"Tomorrow [today], children are going to school and we do not have water. The water tankers do not supply all of us. They started bringing these tankers overnight in some parts of the area. We are not kids, don't play with us," he said. 

Lerato Mkhonto said she was also not voting because of poor service delivery.

"We have no roads here since 1990. RDP houses have been partially allocated in Etwatwa East, West, Emaphupeni and Barcelona informal settlements," Mkhonto said. 

"The turn-out at voting stations is next to nothing. It has been very slow; people walk into voting stations to get water." 

Maria Pitje, was going around looking for water. She said she could not vote because of the water crisis. 

"I'm less concerned about the elections because I have voted for years but nothing changes. Four days is too much without water. So, why am I even voting for? Whether I vote or not, political parties will win and forget about me again," said Pitje. 

The 70-year-old pensioner from Mokgoba said she was tired of the service delivery complaints. 

"We are old people and we cannot live like this. Please forgive us our trespasses dear government, and consider our chronic health issues. We need water to cook and take medication. You can take electricity because we can make fire but water cannot be made and so should never be unavailable especially during a pandemic." 

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