The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo recently requested the South African Human Rights Commission to investigate the Capricorn District Municipality (CDM) for failing to provide consistent clean water to the residents of Klipheuwel in Ward 1 under the Lepelle-Nkumpi Municipality for the past five months.
According to DA councillor in CDM, Ngoako Setjie, some residents are currently fetching water from a nearby stream where cattle and goats also drink, whilst others have to resort to buying water from their neighbours that have boreholes. “The communal water taps dotted in their village have been without water for the past five months. Some taps have even been vandalised by the angry community. Failure to provide water is a violation of Section 27 of the Constitution and it is clear that the municipality is transgressing by not affording this community access to their basic Constitutional rights,” Setjie said in a media release and added that CDM has been informed about the community’s predicament but no attempt has been made to provide water tankers as an interim relief.
In response to the allegations, spokesperson for CDM, Jabu Masondo said that the Klipheuwel Water Scheme is supplied by two types of sources, namely a sandpit (an old source) and a pair of boreholes (a new source). These sources were designed to cover the villages Klipheuwel, Seruleng, Khureng and Mehlareng.
“In early December 2019, the pump station at the old water source supplying the scheme was flooded by the nearby stream due to heavy rains. These floods damaged a lot of infrastructure that is stationed at this pump station. Amongst the infrastructure that was submerged and damaged were the Eskom meter boxes and cables as well as municipal submersible and surface pumps,” Masondo explained.
According to Masondo, CDM’s maintenance team subsequently reported the matter to Eskom and further attempted to repair the damaged municipal infrastructure – upon which they encountered challenges in that the stream was still flooded, submerging the pump station along with the Eskom infrastructure. Following Eskom’s power reconnection on 26 February, the maintenance team managed to pump out water from the flooded station only to find more damage to the infrastructure of the old water supply system.
“During this period, while the maintenance team awaited the dipping of the stream flood levels, the new system was operating fully until it was realised that pressure in the main supply line had been undermined by a burst section of the pipe, thus water struggled to reach the reservoirs. On 18 March 2020, supply through the new system was cut in order to locate the burst pipe section. This was another daunting task in that the leaking section was still submerged under a wetland following the December 2019 flood, making it impossible for equipment to access in order to expose the burst pipe.
The maintenance team then resolved to go back to the new water source outlet to divert its pipeline supply onto the old system pipeline in a quest to bypass the pipe leak and push water through the old system up the reservoirs at optimal pressure and capacity. This was done successfully on 30 March 2020, enabling optimal supply to the reservoirs. The maintenance team is also in the process of repairing the old supply system, which will increase the capacity of the upstream water supply, and thus the supply to the communities of Klipheuwel and the three surrounding villages,” Masondo confirmed.
Story: Barry Viljoen