North west – Residents in Steve Bikoville near Hammanskraal have been protesting since Thursday afternoon after allegedly being without clean water for about two months.
Protesters claim they have not received clean water, suitable for drinking, since January.
“We have a very big problem with water in the area. The water does not reach us,” said a member of the public.
Another resident claimed she got sick from the water from a nearby stream. “No water comes out when taps are opened. When toilets are flushed, no water comes out,” said yet another resident.
Members of the community said they have had enough after the third child from the area was hit by a car on Thursday after fetching water at a nearby river. “A seven-year-old child went to fetch water with a wheelbarrow and on her way back, a car ran her over and just left her there,” said a member of the community who wished to remain anonymous.
The child is recovering at Jubilee Hospital in Temba. After the incident, a community meeting was called.
Protesters allegedly took to the streets, burning tyres and water tanks. The road into Steve Bikoville, near the Dinokeng Nature Reserve, was black after residents closed off the roads, burning everything in their way. “Forty thousand people live here and the community at large took part in the protest,” said a member of the community that witnessed the protest.
Late Thursday night, the angry mob apparently broke down a section of the wall next to the N1 highway. On Friday morning, both the South African Police Services and the Tshwane Metro Police were monitoring the situation.
Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, spokesman for the metro police, said the protest took place on Thursday but officers stayed until Friday afternoon to ensure there were no further disruptions. “There were some disruptions on the R101 at Steve Bikoville, but yesterday no further incidents were reported,” he said.
When Pretoria News arrived, police were patrolling the area in Nyalas and about 30 people had gathered on a dirt road off the R101.
They initially refused to speak to the Pretoria News.
Onlookers warned that the crowd were hostile and could become violent. One resident told Pretoria News they used water from a nearby stream for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing clothes.
“We get sick from the water. We develop stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Sometimes I even bleed when I have diarrhoea,” she said.
George Matjila, member of the mayoral committee (MMC) for roads and transport and the ANC leader of the region, and Jacob Masango, MMC for infrastructure, met about 300 community members in an open field on Friday. “We are aware of their problem. We are here to listen to the community,” said Matjila.
Masango said water trucks were sent, but the community chased them, stoning some of them.
He said the water reservoir in the area was empty and promised clean water would be provided within the next two weeks. “We will bring in water tanks as soon as we can,” he said. He added that the municipality was working on both a short-term and a long-term plan to curb the water crisis. “The water shortage is not only a problem here. Many areas are without water,” Masango said.
There were allegations that the officials responsible for distributing water in the area charged the residents for water. “Bring us the evidence and we will investigate,” said Masango.
It was reported the Potchefstroom and Rustenburg areas are also suffering a water crisis.