SOWETAN | No justice year after cholera

Residents in Temba , Hammanskraal collecting water from water tanks in the area.
Residents in Temba , Hammanskraal collecting water from water tanks in the area.

A year ago, a man-made tragedy struck in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria, where more than 20 lives were lost during a cholera outbreak.

The lingering effects of the days leading up to the loss of loved ones by families are still being felt till today and shall be for many years to come. The community is still reeling in shock and the families whose lives have been turned upside down may never fully get closure about who caused the deaths of their relatives.

The suffering continues to surround them, wrapped in heartbreaking stories of despair as they battle to access clean, safe drinking water and make ends meet.

The failure of the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant remains the main reason why Hammanskraal residents are not receiving clean drinking water. The problem dates back more than a decade with the community left to drink water not fit for human consumption until the outbreak of cholera.

Despite interventions announced by authorities almost a year ago to ensure the community’s access to clean, drinking water, the progress has been dismal. The first phase of the interim solution to provide water to residents is only expected to be completed in September.  

Supply of water through tankers by Tshwane metro, according to residents, has been erratic, and it will take until 2026 to complete the remaining upgrade work at the Rooiwal plant.

But perhaps the most disheartening betrayal of the community of Hammaskraal by the authorities can be found in the fact that hardly anyone has been held to account for the deaths of so many people.

Disciplinary hearings against five Tshwane employees implicated in forensic report for irregular awarding of Rooiwal contract to Edwin Sodi ended with a disappointing slap on the wrist. The metro’s employees were found guilty on one charge out of five.

Tshwane metro insists it is still determined to seek blacklisting of Sodi and his companies for poor performance, but this is yet to yield results. Criminal investigations into a case opened in 2022 against companies involved in Rooiwal are also yet to be finalised.

As we mark a year since the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, we revisited families of the victims to highlight ongoing injustices visited upon the poor and vulnerable in our society.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.