Disgruntled residents of Moutse in Limpopo are still sharing dirty water from the river with animals. Water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu handed over a multimillion-rand water treatment plant to the Sekhukhune region. This was three weeks before the elections and one year over schedule. Residents have been without running water for years.
The former minister of water affairs and human settlement, Lindiwe Sisulu made a whooping R143 million allocated for water supply relief. A R502 million Giyani bulk water project was commissioned in 2014. Seven years later, the budget has increased to R3.3 billion. Meanwhile, Moutse residents which straddle Limpopo and Mpumalanga are left without water. The cash strapped Elias Motswaledi municipality near Groblersdal has left the residents without clean running tap water for years.
In July 2019, the Greater Sekhukhune municipality allocated R12 million to a contractor to provide water to residents. This was after the Makoma Dam that supplied water to Moutse residents ran dry.
According to Seun Mogotsi, community leader and councillor of the Bolshevik Party of South Africa (BPSA), the contractor was bullied by a local business forum. The forum demanded a stake in the tender that resulted in funds being depleted.
“Now they have finished the money allocated to supply water to us. We didn’t get a drop of water supply from water tankers,” said Mogotsi. Now Mogotsi is accusing local business owners of turning the municipality into a ‘cash cow’ and milking its public funds. He said they have finished the money and now they are invoicing the municipality for about R5.5 million.
The Greater Sekhukhune municipality spokesperson Moloko Moloto confirmed that the local business owner invoiced the municipality. He promised the municipality will investigate to find proof that there was a service rendered before payment can be made.
“We confirm that it is true that the R12 Million allocated for the people of Moutse as a relief has been used. As the municipality we acknowledge that the water shortage situation in Moutse is serious. Our minister and premier will share the light with us about plans to be put in place.” Moloto said.
The water service authority Greater Sekhukhune municipality allocated a whooping R579 million for Moutse east-west bulk water supply. This was for about 40 villages of more than 500 000 population in the 2017/2018 financial budget as part of their integrated development plan(IDP).
The delay in completing the bulk water supply project was caused by the ongoing court battle between the contractor and the department of water affairs. “As a result the municipality provided 3 water tankers as a temporary major to supply water to residents. In other areas they provided boreholes as a relief major in place,” Moloto said. However angry residents blocked Moloto road and R25 roads several times with burning tyres and bricks during their protest demanding water and electricity.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Ephraim Mogale Local Municipality are not happy about the alleged water theft. This is from the municipality fire hydrant in extension 6. It is situated in a small developing town of Marble Hall.
“The Greater Sekhukhune municipality allows this to happen under their watch.The water tanker supplies water to neighbouring villages of Makhuduthamaga municipality,” Limpopo DA leader, Flip Jacobs said.
Jacobs explained: “We visited the place where the hydrant in question is and we uncovered that eight to nine water tankers came to fetch water there daily.” Jacobs said there was also no meter reading to monitor the usage of water and that allowed people to abuse municipality water without paying for it.
The water tankers fetching water in the water hydrant transport water to Jane Furse in Makhuduthamaga local municipality. It doesn’t form part of Ephraim Mogale local municipality.
Jacobs added that DA alerted Sekhukhune District Municipality to unmarked water tanker trucks loading water from the hydrant in November 2019. He said there had not been any attempt by the district municipality to address their concern or correct the problem
The opposition party has since threatened to open a police case of water theft against the municipality at Marblehall police station. This is following allegations that more than 800 000 litres of water are being stolen from the hydrant daily.
Jacobs said failure to monitor and stop theft of water contravenes section 151 of the National water Act,36 of 1998. The Act states it is a criminal offence if a municipality fails to register an existing lawful use when required by a responsible authority to do so. The National water Act determines that it is an offence to intentionally refuse to perform a duty.
However, municipal residents are without clean running tap water and still share dirty water with animals. This is while water is being stolen under their nose. The municipality assured residents that there was no theft at that point.
They promised households they won’t be billed from the water collected from hydrants. This was as it has a separate meter reading from theirs. Mogotsi said the municipality is failing to fulfil its own promises of supplying clean running tap water to Moutse.