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Amnesty International slams 15 cholera deaths in Hammanskraal

'Access to clean water is a human right, not a privilege'

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Weerapat Kiatdumrong

Amnesty International South Africa says the deaths of 15 people due to cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, is deeply troubling and unacceptable.

The organisation's executive director, Shenilla Mohamed, said people are dying of a "preventable and easily treatable disease". 

“Cholera is caused by the intake of contaminated food or water," said Mohamed.

“The provision of safe water and sanitation is critical in preventing and controlling the transmission of cholera. Despite the Gauteng health department’s warning to residents not to drink the tap water, and confirmation that further samples are being tested, now is the time for the department of water and sanitation (DWS) to work with municipalities, such as the City of Tshwane and across the country, to act in the short- and long-term, and invest in and manage South Africa’s basic water and sanitation infrastructure."

She said the current outbreak "must be brought under control immediately, and the spread of, and possible future outbreaks, must be prevented".

“The right to access safe, sufficient and reliable water is enshrined in the Constitution, and will continue to be threatened – and lives risked – unless the government prioritises investment in infrastructure and tackles corruption and the mismanagement of public funds.

“Lives are at stake, and access to water is a human right and not a privilege. The national government must ensure that resources, such as water, are protected. The DWS must urgently work with municipalities, as well as the department of health, to take immediate action to ensure that water across the country is safe for usage and consumption, and that further deaths are prevented through access to the appropriate medical care and treatment," said Mohamed.

She said all steps taken, as well as information on the source of the outbreak, must be communicated publicly and clearly by the City of Tshwane.

“It is tragic and appalling that people are dying from cholera in South Africa in 2023. The authorities must act decisively immediately.”

mashalek@sowetan.co.za

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