The DA accused the ANC-led Merafong municipality in Gauteng of using the sinkhole problem in the municipality to "milk the South African taxpayer". Picture: Motlabana Monnakgotla

Merafong - The Democratic Alliance on Sunday accused the African National Congress-led Merafong municipality in Gauteng of using the sinkhole problem in the municipality to "milk the South African taxpayer".

"This past week the DA conducted a public feedback meeting with community members affected by the sinkhole in Khutsong that razed several houses and threatens the safety of the broader community," DA Gauteng MPL Ina Cilliers said.

This came after a reply to written questions in the legislature indicating that a whopping R184 million had already been allocated to rehabilitate several sinkholes in the Merafong municipality caused by unattended water leaks, she said.

"Of particular concern is that it is unclear how the funds are being spent. The sinkhole in Khutsong is still not rehabilitated and water from nearby leaks is gushing freely into the sinkhole. The community members indicated a complete breakdown of the trust relationship with Merafong municipality over the handling of this entire matter."

While the affected families faced an uncertain future, the reply indicated that the only long-term solution was to relocate the entire community to a new 500-house RDP development that had not yet gotten off the ground.

While the Gauteng provincial government admitted that sinkholes were caused by “sustained ingress of water into ground spaces, poorly managed surface water drainage systems, and aging asbestos water pipes”, the municipality had no plans to wage a war on leaks. Instead, it was happy to keep asking for more and more funds to rehabilitate sinkholes that they themselves had caused, Cilliers said.

The municipality already faced a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application from the DA over the detailed spending on this disaster, a request they had been ignoring with impunity.

The affected community members had now asked the DA to take up the matter with new human settlements and co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) MEC Uhuru Moila directly, she said.

"It is a sign of the shocking indifference of the [governing] ANC that this entirely preventable situation is being used to milk the South African taxpayer. The DA will leave no stone unturned to uncover and expose the real situation and the daily struggle of this community until a long-term, sustainable resolution is achieved."

The DA would also call for an on-site visit by the legislature human settlements and Cogta portfolio committee to demand answers as to how R184 million had been spent. The residents of Merafong desperately needed the "total change only the DA can bring", Cilliers said.

African News Agency/ANA