Residents of the Boitumelong township in North West queued in a yard to get water from what appeared to be the only working tap in the area. File picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Bloemhof - Residents of the Boitumelong township in Bloemhof, North West, on Thursday queued in a yard to get water from what appeared to be the only working tap in the area.

Despite the water being contaminated, residents said they needed it and had been without water since Friday.

About 30 people were in the line, some with buckets and 25 litre containers, and others with wheelbarrows. Some left with the full containers on their heads.

“Our toilets are stinking. They are full because we don't have water,” resident Meisie Kgomo told Sapa.

“Our kids have been returned from school. (We) can't bath, can't cook, we need clean water as soon as possible.”

Residents said they would boil the contaminated water and use it.

Earlier, North West health department spokesman Tebogo Lekgethwane said Bloemhof's water source had been contaminated and the water pipe had been closed. One child had already died after contracting severe diarrhoea.

“The municipality also stopped water distribution to the community as it was clear the water was the source of contamination and that the water circulating was not safe,” he said.

The pipe was closed on Tuesday. Water tankers had been sent to the area. Schools had been closed since Monday.

In Boitumelong, no tankers were seen on Thursday.

Over 200 other people had reported to local clinics with diarrhoea between Saturday and Tuesday.

By 5pm on Wednesday, another 30 people had sought medical help.

“Today (Thursday) the situation has stabilised. There are no huge numbers of people coming in,” said Lekgethwane.

He said claims that there had been a cholera outbreak had not yet been confirmed.

“Cholera can only be declared when there have been laboratory tests done. We have not declared it cholera. We took samples from the water to go test them. We have not received the results from the laboratory.”

Attempts to get comment from the Lekwa-Teemane municipality were unsuccessful as city manager Andrew Makwapane was in a meeting.