DURBAN – “We want water,” was chanted by Ottawa community members north of Durban during a protest on Sunday morning a day after a 36-year-old eThekwini Municipality official stationed at the area’s water depot was gunned down.
Andisha Maharaj, facilitator of the Ottawa Environmental Forum, said the community was saddened by the murder of a city official.
She said after years of campaigning for Ottawa’s ongoing water and electricity issues to be resolved, it was heartbreaking that only when a tragedy of this nature occurs, people sit up and ask questions about what was happening in the area.
“This tragedy in Ottawa right now really hurts me. When we had the crisis situation (with electricity), a technician was electrocuted in Ottawa on October 8, 2021, and now when we have a water crisis in Ottawa, an official was shot and killed. It is so, so sad for us as a community, that when we get these kinds of issues, that it has to reach that point where a life is sacrificed shamelessly and in futility, for someone to sit up and ask what is going on and why.” said Maharaj.
Maharaj said she was glad that residents gathered on Old Main Road this morning and made their voices heard.
“It is the kind of cries that we wanted to make. So that the government can sit up and try and come and intervene for us. We still don't have water tankers,” she said.
She further said that the manager of a mosque in Ottawa has assisted the community with private water tankers.
“He has been rallying around for the past week and a half getting private tankers to come and give us water in Ottawa from his friends in the mosque and businesses.
“None of the official tankers from the depot have ever come out to Ottawa, that I'll put my head on a block and tell you they have not come,” said Maharaj.
In a statement on Saturday, eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda condemned the killing.
Kaunda called upon law enforcement agencies to arrest the perpetrators swiftly.
He said the employee was carrying out her daily duties at the water tanker fIlling point and that the motive for the killing was not yet known.
“We are in the grip of a disaster and this murder is something we do not need. We condemn it and we hope the police will move with speed and arrest those responsible. This employee was entrusted with a critical responsibility of controlling our water tankers.
“We urge anyone who may have information with regard to this unfortunate incident, to work with the police. We send our heartfelt condolences to her family and colleagues,” said Kaunda.