Orange Farm residents allegedly burnt two water tanks that the Department of Water and Sanitation had provided them with to help with water challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Orange Farm residents allegedly burnt two water tanks that the Department of Water and Sanitation had provided them with to help with water challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Orange Farm protesters torch water tanks meant for Covid-19 relief

By Botho Molosankwe Time of article published Jun 11, 2020

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Johannesburg - Water tanks that were meant to help Orange Farm residents during the Covid-19 pandemic have been torched.

It is believed that tanks, which were set alight on Tuesday in Driziek 3, were burnt by protesting Orange Farm residents who took to the streets over water and electricity challenges they have been experiencing.

Hosia Sithole of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said Orange Farm residents get their water from City of Joburg.

However, the department took two water tanks to Orange Farm to augment the residents' normal supply in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to ensure that water-stressed communities have access to clean water supply to fight the spread of Covid-19.

He said they had provided 2 232 water tanks to the Cities of Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni as well as the Sedibeng District and West Rand District Municipalities.

On Tuesday, however, they got information in that the tanks in Orange Farm had been burnt.

"The Department of Water and Sanitation notes with concern the wanton and unwarranted incidents of burning of water tanks. The residents burnt the very same tanks that we had provided them to alleviate the challenges they are experiencing.

"DWS’s Gauteng Provincial Head, Mr Sibusiso Mthembu, expressed disappointment at the torching of water tanks, saying this was running counter to the objective to ensure that communities were not negatively impacted on by the spreading virus.

"Mthembu said many people were desperate for the assistance the department was providing in the form of water tanks and tankers, and that the actions of some community members were unjustified and utterly unacceptable.

He said the coronavirus is spreading at a rapid rate and communities need water to wash their hands. These acts of wanton destruction of property are infringing upon the rights of access to water of other members of the community. We condemn such acts as they demonstrate disregard for other people’s lives."

Sithole also said Mthembu stated that communities that lacked access to water were particularly at risk during this time and that the intervention of the department would go a long way to ensure that needy communities were able to practice proper hygiene by washing hands with water and soap to stay healthy.

He also urged communities to look after water infrastructure, reiterating that its destruction only served to set back whatever strides the government was making to guarantee communities were safe from the coronavirus.

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