A file picture of a resident in Stinkwater pouring water into a cup. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
Pretoria - The City of Tshwane and South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) just cannot seem to find each other with regards to the quality of the water in the far northern region of the capital of Hammanskraal and surrounding areas.

On Monday, SAHRC provincial head Buang Jones cautioned against drinking the water, saying it was unsuitable for human consumption.

And yesterday, executive mayor Stevens Mokgalapa did not help the situation, adding his voice to the confusion faced by residents by telling them to drink the water because it was safe.

Jones said his statement was based on the tests conducted by the CSIR on June 20, which produced adverse findings about the water supplied by Tshwane. He said the results proved there were too many nitrates in the water, which carried the potential to stunt the growth of babies.

The water was also dangerous for people with weak immune systems, according to the report.

At Tshwane House yesterday, Mokgalapa said: “It is regrettable that the issue has invited negative sentiment from the public. However, the City refutes the assertion that residents are being supplied sub-standard water.

“The City takes the provision of quality water seriously as this is a human right and as such, treats this issue with the sensitivity is deserves.”

Asked whether he disputed the CSIR report, he said: “I would not like to dwell on the question of whether we are disputing one another.”

He said the City conducted its latest test on August 2, which showed that water was drinkable. “We are engaging with the region; we suspect there’s a sediment in the network. As a point of clarity, it is not a fact that the water is not safe for human consumption,” he said.

The City was required to submit compulsory regular quality tests to the Department of Water and Sanitation. “These tests are conducted weekly to determine the status of the water quality. The department will communicate any inconsistencies to the City should our report raise concerns. We have not received any communication to this effect,” he said.

However, he said there were residents who had discoloured water running from their taps.

“In response to this, the City is looking into the cause of the discolouration. We are engaging the region as we suspect there’s a sediment in the network supplying water to affected residents. This means that water deteriorates from the point it leaves the plant to where it is dispensed,” he said.

The City, he said, was aware of comments made by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse that the water in Hammanskraal was of poor quality.

“The City also welcomes the SAHRC’s inquiry into the quality of the water in the community,” he said.

Mokgalapa said the Temba Water Treatment Plant was 99% complete and was anticipated to be completed on August 31.

“Upgrades on the Rooiwal plant have commenced and will continue over an estimated period of two years until all upgrades have been concluded,” he said.

Jones was last night not available to comment on the mayor’s latest utterances.

However, he has previously warned the City to discontinue from making dangerous statements regarding the water situation. “We said to each other ‘let’s stop doing the grandstanding’. It was us, the City and the department and now that the results are not favourable to them (the City), they want to contest them. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.

When all has been said and done, the residents of the affected areas are no wiser than they were earlier in the week with regard to the state of the water in the far north sections of Tshwane.

Pretoria News