By Shaun Smillie

An independent water sample taken from the Jukskei River has revealed the presence of cholera but the Department of Water Affairs has yet to confirm the presence of the waterborne disease.

Paul Fairall, an environmental consultant and the chairman of the Jukskei River catchment area management forum, received the results last week of two samples he had drawn from the river.

One of the samples, taken from the Dewetshof area, below Bezuidenhout Valley, showed signs of a strain of cholera. The second sample, taken from the Jukskei in Marlboro, was clear.

Fairall said it was "the result of a tragic situation where you have thousands of refugees living in the centre of Johannesburg".

On Monday the department said it had not found cholera in the Jukskei but it would begin testing for the disease.

"With all the faecal pollution found in the Jukskei it is likely that cholera could be detected," said Leonardo Manus, manager of drinking water quality regulation at the department.

He said regional staff would need to highlight to communities most at risk to cholera the dangers of drinking untreated water.