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Criminal case opened over Bloemhof crisis

Johannesburg - Residents of Bloemhof in the North West opened a criminal case against former municipal manager Andrew Makuapane following a water contamination crisis that claimed the lives of three babies, AfriForum said on Friday.

“Pollution is a criminal offence and perpetrators must be prosecuted in terms of the law,” provincial co-ordinator Carmea Huysamen said.

People queue for water in the township of Boitumelong in Bloemhof in North West. File picture: Werner Beukes. Credit: SAPA

On May 30, AfriForum took various water samples in and around the Bloemhof area.

“The results showed that the catastrophe in Bloemhof may not be over yet. Negligence is still causing pollution of the Vaal River and influences all residents living downstream,” Huysamen said.

Since May 25, over 500 cases of diarrhoea have been recorded at health care facilities in Bloemhof, which falls under the Lekwa-Teemane municipality.

Three babies, aged between seven and 13 months, died in Bloemhof during the crisis with their deaths believed to be as a result of contaminated tap water.

North West premier Supra Mahumapelo's spokesman Sam Mokaila said he could not comment on the matter because Makuapane was not an employee of government.

“There's absolutely nothing that government can say,” he said.

North West police could not immediately confirm the case and said they would comment later.

Makuapane resigned earlier in June, a few days after being suspended. This followed a meeting by provincial and municipal leaders.

Lekwa-Teemane mayor Moeder Makodi was also removed from office.

AfriForum head of environmental affairs Julius Kleynhans said results of the water test showed that the water coming from the Vaal contained life-threatening counts of faecal coliform units for every 100ml of water.

“Should this water be improperly treated, it could be the cause of the health disaster in Bloemhof,” Kleynhans said.

AfriForum is a minority rights lobby group and NGO. - Sapa

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