City urged to reconnect water supply of Khayelitsha residents
Cape Town – The City of Cape Town has been slated for disconnecting the water supply of Khayelitsha residents despite their pleas to be allowed to use their taps to maintain hygiene during the Covid-19 crisis.
GOOD secretary-general Brett Herron said they also received reports from residents and community activists living in several informal settlements across the Cape metropole complaining of water supply failures in their areas.
Herron said he has alerted the South African Human Rights Commission and written to Mayor Dan Plato and the MECs for Local Government and Human Settlements, calling on them "to act with the utmost urgency".
A group of Khayelitsha residents held a peaceful protest this week against the water cuts over the past fortnight.
According to the residents, the City cut the water supply to the households due to account debt and residents were now concerned about where they would get water from after the announcement of a 21-day lockdown in the country.
"The residents report that they are not receiving any water since being disconnected despite a legal right to a supply of water at a flow rate of not less than 10 litres per minute – and despite the City of Cape Town's commitment not to disconnect residents from water," Herron said.
"Across the world, including in South Africa, people are being urged to wash their hands as a critical defence against contracting the coronavirus.
"With just hours before the nation enters the mandatory 21-day stay-at-home, depriving people of water in or close to their homes forces them onto the streets. It is not only nonsensical but also immoral, and a criminal dereliction of duty by the Cape Town Metro.
"The immediate provision of water to all residents is not a nice-to-have. It is a necessity.
"The City of Cape Town must immediately reconnect any family whose water supply has been disconnected, and implement disaster measures in informal settlements whose water infrastructure has been inadequately maintained."
Community leader Qaba Mbola said the water supply to his home was cut for more than two weeks.
“We approached the City regarding the water cut issue in our area. The City’s response was that if we are able to buy food, we might as well pay our bills and I found that insulting, because I survive by temporary jobs.
“We are now almost reaching the eye of the storm. There is going to be a lockdown soon and we are concerned about our hygiene. How are we supposed to protect ourselves from Covid-19, if the City cuts off water?”
Mayoral committee member for finance Ian Neilson said earlier this week it was unclear whether there was a lack of water due to supply interruptions, if the water pressure was playing a role or if the customers were restricted to a running trickle-flow of water due to municipal debt.
“If it is the latter, water is not cut off. It is restricted to a running trickle-flow after numerous warning letters have been sent to pay water debt and efforts to engage residents on debt management arrangements have not been successful.
"The water is not cut off but the flow is reduced so that people can still use the water for hygiene and drinking. We do this to prevent enormous water wastage and also to ensure that the municipality can still carry on functioning to provide services.
“Customers are asked to contact a City cash office to make arrangements for reconnection. There is no need to protest,” said Neilson.