Andile Bhaqwa and Joulin O'Reilly fetching free water from a truck as a result of the water crises in the Ugu Municipality. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane

Water services are trickling back in some South Coast towns after striking municipal workers returned to work. 

But, with reservoir levels as low as 1% this week, other areas are still dependent on tanks for water to bath, flush and cook. 

The water cuts have also devastated businesses. 

Andile Baqwa an operations manager of a chicken eatery, said when the taps ran dry at their five restaurants along the South Coast, they had to turn patrons away, selling only take-aways. 

“We could not have sit-down meals because there was no water to clean the plates or for customers to wash their hands,” he said. 

Operations assistant Jouline O’Reilly said it was particularly difficult to tell customers they could not use the restrooms as there was no water to flush. 

Unable to operate as a restaurant, they lost a lot of business. 

When the water was cut off, the municipality dispatched water tankers and placed tanks in public areas. But residents alleged that these would sometimes not reach people because of intimidation allegedly linked to the industrial action. 

But residents banded together, alerting each other to areas without water then arranging to assist. 

One of the people who went out of his way for his community is Chris Korsten. 

The business owner used his personal connections to secure three 2500l water tanks, loaded them on to his truck and went to collect water. 

He alleged that when he first went to an Ugu reservoir, he was threatened and insulted and not allowed to go in.
 
He drew water from a farmer friend’s borehole and other points, providing more than 30 000l of water to anyone who needed it. 

“I just park the truck here and people come and help themselves, but we limit it to two 25l per family,” said Korsten. 

He said he did this after witnessing people’s “absolute desperation” for water. 

The South African Human Rights Commission on Wednesday intends to visit the South Coast areas which ran dry allegedly after intentional water shut-downs. 

Communications coordinator Gushwell Brooks yesterday confirmed that the commission was  “... proceeding as per the Commission’s complaints handling procedures”. 

This after they received complaints about the water crisis  allegedly created by wildcat industrial action by disgruntled Ugu District Municipality workers. 

Meanwhile, the Office of the Public Protector was also investigating, said spokeswoman Cleopatra Mosana. 

This comes after months of intermittent water disruptions which left residents and holidaymakers without running water for days at a time.