People queue for water in the township of Boitumelong in Bloemhof in North West on Thursday, 29 May 2014. North West health department spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane said Bloemhof's water source had been contaminated. "The municipality also stopped water distribution to the community as it was clear the water was the source of contamination and that the water circulating was not safe," he said. He said water tankers had been sent to the area. Resident Kgomotso Moalusi said some people were not getting water from the tanks. "The water tanks are selective. They give water to their own people. They started giving water to people late last night in five litre containers." Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Johannesburg - Lekwa Teemane mayor Moeder Makodi has been removed from office amid a water contamination crisis that claimed the lives of three babies in Bloemhof.

“The mayor has been recalled by the ANC,” North West premier Supra Mahumapelo's spokesman Sam Mokaila told Sapa on Monday.

“It was part of the ANC's intervention to stabilise the municipality.”

Mokaila could not say if a new mayor had been appointed yet.

“The ANC will be better placed to explain that,” he said.

Last week, municipal manager Andrew Makwapane resigned a few days after being suspended. This followed a meeting by provincial and municipal leaders.

A joint task team had been set up to look into the municipality's ailing infrastructure, governance, and administrative problems, and a sewage spill that resulted in the water contamination.

The team comprised members of the provincial executive committee, the water and sanitation department, and other officials.

An interim city manager from the department of local government was meant to be appointed on Monday morning.

Mokaila said this had not yet happened.

“It will happen tomorrow [on Tuesday],” he said.

He did not provide further details.

North West health department spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane said since May 25, over 500 people suffering from diarrhoea had been treated at healthcare facilities in Bloemhof.

Three babies had died as a result of severe diarrhoea. In the past week, the number of cases had declined.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) ruled out cholera as the cause of the outbreak. It said tests confirmed that E. coli bacteria and other viruses were found in water samples.

The municipality has since drained the entire water system and sanitised it.

Residents were advised to make their drinking water safe by boiling it for one minute or adding a teaspoon of household bleach to 20 litres of water. - Sapa