Water in Thaba Chweu in Mpumalanga is safe for drinking despite the municipality failing to achieve Blue Drop status, said an independent analyst on Wednesday.

A task team has been established to help restore the water supply to Lillydale, in the Bushbuckridge municipality, Mpumalanga, the water affairs department said on Thursday.

The water supply to the area was disrupted following the theft of seven transformers, the department said in a statement.

Water and Environment Affairs Minister Edna Molewa called on residents to allow workers into Lillydale after they were denied access to boreholes on Wednesday.

Molewa said residents setting fire to water tanks was “unacceptable.”

She said the department was notified of the shortage on Monday, and that after officials investigated it was discovered the transformers had been stolen.

“It is expected that all seven transformers will be installed with the assistance of Eskom today 1/8Thursday 3/8, should the workers gain access to the village,” the department said.

The municipality had been instructed to employ armed guards to protect workers and to prevent the new transformers from being stolen.

Water samples, taken from a stream in Lillydale, were to be tested for water-borne diseases, following reports of cholera in the area.

An “urgent” meeting between the Mpumalanga local government department and water affairs was being arranged to seek sustainable solutions.

“Security of infrastructure which is a huge problem in the Mpumalanga province”, would also be addressed at the meeting, the department said.

Bulk water supply measures would be in place in the Bushbuckridge area within four to five months.

On Monday, Lillydale protesters torched municipal offices and a grader. They were unhappy that the drinking water in the area had been found unfit for human consumption.

According to the 2012 Blue Drop Report, the water of 14 municipalities, including Bushbuckridge, did not meet government standards. Residents were advised to boil it or add bleach before drinking it.

Nine people were arrested during the protest and appeared in the Bushbuckridge Magistrate's Court on Wednesday. They were granted bail of R1000 each. The matter was postponed to May 31. - Sapa