Peter Barends, 78, who has cancer, had his water cut at his Elsies River home, says Petrina Thyssen. Picture: Jack Lestrade

Cape Town - A 78-year-old pensioner, who is dying from cancer, and his elderly wife have been left without water for two weeks, and they say it’s the City of Cape Town’s fault.

Three months ago, Peter Barends was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and recently the cancer spread to his entire body.

The old man, who is wheelchair-bound, receives daily care from a nurse.

Over two weeks ago, Peter and his wife, Gertrude, 73, and four other relatives who live with them at The Range in Elsies River, were suddenly left without water.

The family was told this was due to a burst water pipe in the area and waited for the City to come fix the problem.

In the meantime, they relied on family and friends to give them buckets of water to survive.

Gertrude says her husband needs water to take his medication, and she was also been unable to wash any of his bedding, which needs to be changed daily.

Petrina with the bottled water they’re forced to use. Picture: Jack Lestrade


Last week, City officials visited their home and said the fault was a broken water meter, which they have fixed.

However, as soon as the officials left, the taps went dry again, says Petrina Thyssen, 61, who has been caring for her sister, Gertrude, and her brother-in-law.

“When we called two weeks ago, they said it was a burst water pipe in the area,” explains Petrina.

“Then officials claimed it was a faulty water meter and fixed it. The water was back on for a few minutes and then it was off again. This has been the situation now for days. Each time we call the City, we receive a reference number.”

Showing bottles of water they collect from family and friends, Petrina says it’s disgusting that her brother-in-law has to suffer.

She says Peter was given between three and six months to live.

“A nurse comes here daily, and has to wash and care for him and give his medication."

“How can all of these things be done when there is no water? The doctors have confirmed Peter has stage 4 cancer and now he has to live like this. It isn’t right.”

A nurse brings a sickly-looking Peter out to meet the Daily Voice team and he confirms they have been without water.

“The water has been off and they have promised to put it on, but they never have,” he says.

“I need water to take my medication.”

The Daily Voice contacted the City of Cape Town, and an official said the City is currently investigating the situation.