Mayor Solly Msimanga and Premier David Makhura address a community meeting in Hammanskraal. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - Executive Mayor Solly Msimanga on Thursday appeared to be at odds with Premier David Makhura after he refused to apologise to residents in Hammanskraal and Temba for their ongoing water woes.

This was during a community meeting at Sebothoma Hall in Temba, where residents complained about the poor quality of water.

The meeting was convened by Makhura who was in the area almost two months ago to interact with residents about the recurring water problem.

He had come back to give feedback about the government’s efforts to address long-standing complaints regarding smelly water.

Msimanga received a hostile welcome from residents, who were angry after the City on Friday announced that water in the two townships was good for human consumption.

The City had also announced that it would withdraw water tankers which had to distribute clean and drinkable water.

For hours, residents vented their anger about the statement, demanding that Msimanga apologise for declaring that the water in the area was suitable for consumption.

Others questioned why the City failed to consult with residents before it concluded that their water was drinkable.

They bitterly complained that their water was dirty and smelled of faeces.

Residents were supplied water from Rooiwal Waste Water Treatment Plant, which lacked the capacity to service the large population in the area.

Makhura said that it was clear that the water in the area was not good enough for human consumption, but for animals.

“We can’t convince you (residents) to drink dirty water,” Makhura said.

He apologised to residents on behalf of the government and the municipality for providing them with unsafe water.

After making the apology, Makhura requested Msimanga to do the same.

But the mayor opted to demonstrate that the water was not contaminated by drinking it in front of the community inside the hall.

Makhura was, however, not pleased with the gesture.

He said Msimanga’s once-off demonstration contrasted with the bad experiences of residents, who were subjected to consuming the smelly water every day.

Msimanga told residents that the City was cleaning water and needed until January next year to do so.

In an about-turn, Msimanga said he would order back water tankers with immediate effect to distribute clean water to households.

He said that the City would prioritise the delivery of water to crèches and schools.

Makhura said he would send a team from the provincial health department to investigate cases of illnesses caused by water.

The team would also check on the nature of the problem.

“Our Constitution says you have the right to safe and clean water,” Makhura said.

Local Sanco secretary Anna Mawela alleged that some drivers of water tankers sold water to residents, instead of distributing it for free.

Mawela said: “People who sell water must be reported because they are stealing from the public.”

Residents previously embarked on violent protests, complaining that the water provided by the City was smelly and dirty.

They also complained about high utility bills and the fact that they were forced to pay for the dirty water.

Pretoria News