Johannebsurg - The local government ministry should investigate the relationship between local businesspeople and senior government officials responsible for supplying water to Mothutlung in the North West, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) said on Wednesday.
“We are suspicious that the service delivery protest might be a war over the tender to supply water in the area,” said national spokesman Castro Ngobese in a statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, North West premier Thandi Modise's spokesman Lesiba Kgwele said people in the area believed the water supply had been sabotaged.
“People in the area... believe an act of sabotage took place by people who want to continue tanking,” he said, referring to the water tankers used in the area.
“We need to investigate this particular water interruption, as it has happened frequently as a result of people involved in tanking.”
He said residents were clear they did not want to use water tanks from private service providers. People suspected the pumps had been sabotaged to keep these providers in business.
“That is where a investigation is required in that regard,” he said.
Numsa also condemned the killing of two protesters allegedly by police, which they believed happened due to police using excessive force, comparing the tactics used to those employed by police during apartheid.
The union called on Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega to suspend the policemen responsible for the deaths.
“Furthermore, we are concerned by the loud silence of Popcru (the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union) in condemning these continuous killings of the working class by their own members,” Ngobese said.
The union wished two other protesters injured the best in their recovery.
Police allegedly shot the two protesters while they were en route to the Madibeng municipality with other residents to demand water.
Beeld newspaper named them as mineworker Osia Rahube and a photographer known only as Bra Mike.
A third man died after he allegedly tried to escape from a moving Nyala armoured vehicle.
On Tuesday, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa promised Mothutlung residents, near Brits, water before the weekend.
“Water will be back by Friday,” she told residents. She was there with Mthethwa after visiting the families of the two men killed during violent protests in the township on Monday.
DA provincial leader Chris Hattingh said in a statement on Wednesday that the water crisis in the municipality was not a sudden problem, as claimed by Molewa.
“The crisis has not been the result, as the minister has implied, of a sudden and unexpected breakdown of the water pumps in Madibeng,” he said.
“During her explanation to the community of Mothutlung, Minister Molewa failed to state that two of the three water pumps... serving the Mothutlung and Damonsville communities, had been out of service for more than two years.”
Molewa said three local water pumps in the area had broken down, which she said was a “very strange problem”.
The area has been without running water for three months and water tankers arrive every three days.
Kgwele said the DA was muddying the waters for electioneering purposes.
“It is political grandstanding. The lives of the people there need to be brought to normality,” he said.
Hattingh said the municipality had not cared enough to repair the pumps before. When the third pump, which was larger than the other two, broke down, people were left with only the water remaining in the reservoirs.
“After the national outcry this week, all three pumps were sent in for repair on Tuesday,” he said.
“Minister Molewa should expand her investigation. Four of the other nine pumps providing water to communities in the Madibeng municipality have also been dysfunctional for months. One of these pumps has disappeared.”
Kgwele called on political parties not to be opportunistic.
“For the DA, it's black on black on violence from which they seek to get political mileage,” he said.
Molewa's spokesman was not immediately available for comment.