Thirty years later, still no water in Roosboom

PETER MABASO* (45) is a resident of Roosboom, in Kwa-Zulu Natal, where violent service delivery protests recently broke out over the lack of water supply to the area. He has been waiting 30 years to be connected to the town’s water supply. He told ZAHEERA MULLA his story.

I go out to fetch water twice a week, on a Saturday and Sunday. There is a water pipe that runs from Settlers Park right through Roosboom. But there is no pipe to get the water to our house. Instead there is a borehole pump 500 metres away.

I have to cross the road, then jump a fence to get to it. I go every week but some people wait for the truck to come with the water tanks. The trucks come during the day when we are at work and no one is home. Sometimes you don’t know what time they will come.

Roosboom_obscuredI use about 60 litres of water a week. Most of my water goes towards cooking and washing my clothes and my dishes. I like cooking spinach and potato dishes and that doesn’t take much water. The water I fetch is cold and I have to heat it on the fire so I can bath. The toilet is a portable one with no flush.

It’s not easy. It’s hard, very, very hard, to keep fetching water from all the way over there. It’s tiring because I am old. The government has to do something to change our situation. We’ve been living like this for so long.

Before Apartheid ended, we had no electricity and we had to build pit latrines. Now the government is building toilets for us and providing electricity but the water situation is still bad. There has been nothing at all from the ANC government. They never tell us anything or promise us anything. In 2008, the Inkatha Freedom Party promised us that they would change the water situation. Six years later, we’re still waiting.

I didn’t take part in the strike in July. For my part I thought the strikers were wrong.They blocked the road, burned tyres and threw stones. It’s not right. They even burned the bridge. They should have called the councillor, explained what the problem was and told him what they wanted. I’m tired of this. I couldn’t get to work all week, I just stayed home and worked in the garden.

If I could phone the president, I could tell him that the water situation in Roosboom needs to change. It is very hard for us all.

Some places have everything. In Ezakheni, they have electricity, good toilets and homes. They don’t pay for it. It’s for free. We’ve got nothing.

– As told to Zaheera Mulla

* Not his real name


Zaheera Mulla profile picZaheera Mulla is a Rhodes University graduate and a reporter for the Ladysmith Gazette. She is a runner, a green-tea drinker, and chocolate lover. She holds a strong sense of community close to her heart and loves her job because she is always interacting with new people.