Pretoria - The Department of Water and Sanitation must take over the running of water services in the City of Tshwane to avoid more fatalities in Hammanskraal and surrounding areas as a result of contaminated water.
This was the call by the regional ANC in Tshwane following the outbreak of diarrhoeal and gastrointestinal infection in the area, resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people since last Monday.
The party pointed fingers at the DA-led coalition government in Tshwane, saying: “These unfortunate developments were to be expected considering the current administration’s failures in (managing) both the water and the wastewater treatment plant servicing the community of Hammanskraal.”
ANC caucus spokesperson in council, Joel Masilela, said the party had previously raised concerns about the quality of water also in areas such as Metsweding, Ga-Rankuwa and Mamelodi.
“The ANC has always raised concerns around the conditions of water management in the city, and how the municipality lost its blue drop status, since the DA led-coalition took over in 2016,” he said.
Masilela said the ANC “calls on the National Department of Water and Sanitation to take over water services in Tshwane for the sake of saving the lives of our communities.
“As we have in previous years challenged the capacity of the municipality in handling the water issues of Hammanskraal with dirty and stinking water coming from the Tshwane Water Waste Treatment plant and many other parts, we continue to do so. If the city persists with its shallow claims of having capacity, more lives will be lost, and that must be avoided at all costs,” he said.
The EFF in Tshwane also blamed the city for poor water management for years, saying many residents have reported receiving discoloured and foul-smelling water from their taps.
“This contaminated water supply has led to widespread illness in the community with many people suffering from gastrointestinal disease and other water-borne diseases. Tragically, some individuals have even died.”
The affected patients reported at Jubilee District Hospital and have recorded symptoms of watery diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps.
The Gauteng Department of Health and Wellness said 67 people from Kanana, Suurman, Majaneng and Green Field in Hammanskraal have presented at the hospital with symptoms of diarrhoea.
Among those treated at the hospital were seven patients, who have since been certified dead.
Provincial and district outbreak response teams were dispatched to the hospital and the affected areas to investigate the source of the diarrhoeal disease and to raise awareness among communities.
City spokesperson Selby Bokaba urged communities not to use water from taps for drinking purposes following the health outbreak in the area.
“While the water supplied by the City in Hammanskraal is not potable, the City does provide potable (drinkable) water through 52 water tankers to informal settlements three times a week, and 40 water trucks to formal areas daily in Region 2 to ensure that communities drink safe water.”
Bokaba said the City regularly conducted tests on the quality of water provided to communities.
Following this outbreak, he said, comprehensive tests would be done on the entire water distribution network.
“Water samples have been collected in the affected areas and taken for tests. The results are expected on Wednesday to determine the cause of the outbreak. Some of the cases reported are from the Moretele area, which is not supplied by the City of Tshwane,” he said.
Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, who visited the facility yesterday, expressed concern with the number of people presenting with symptoms of diarrhoea, stomach cramps and vomiting.
“The outbreak response teams remain on high alert with advocacy and education work continuing especially targeting the immediately affected areas.”
Gastrointestinal infection is a common and often highly infectious condition that affects the stomach and intestines, according to the provincial Health Department. The disease, it said, spreads through contact with an infected person or by consuming contaminated food or water.
“Healthy people usually recover without complications, however, for infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems the intestinal infection can be fatal,” the department said.
Residents were advised to use only safe or disinfected water for preparing food, beverages and ice in order to prevent possible transmission of the infection.
They were also urged to report to their nearest health facilities when they present with mild to severe and watery diarrhoea and dehydration symptoms, so they can receive treatment.
“Symptoms may appear within 1-3 days after being infected and range from mild to severe.
“Symptoms usually last just a day or two, but occasionally they may last up to 14 days. The outbreak response teams remain on alert with advocacy and education work continuing especially targeting the immediately affected areas,” said the department.