Residents left to plead for water at school gates

By Sphiwe Ntuli

Phumlaphi Mkhabela lives in the rural community of Rooikop about 70 km south of Standerton, Mpumalanga. She claims that without taps and running water, the community relies on springs or pools of collected rainwater for water.

Rooikop residents say they must beg water off a local school and are often turned away by school security guards (File photo).

“Because we don’t have taps that supply us with water, we use (puddles of rain water),” Mkhabela told OurHealth. “When it’s not raining and (these pools) become dry, we have to hire transport to fetch water from a nearby place like Ezakheni Combined Boarding School and Driefontein.”

Ezakheni Combined Boarding School near Wakkerstroom is about 60 kms east of Rooikop. The town of Driefontein is about 30 kms further.

“We spend almost R400 to hire transport (and that) is too much for us,” she added.

Mkhabela also alleged that sometimes the school’s security guards refuse to let residents enter school grounds to collect water saying that the water is for learners and not for community members.

Idah Mbuyisa has been living in Rooikop for 31 years and says the community has never had piped water.

“We are neglected by our own government and at the end of the day they say they have good story to tell, which is wrong because we are suffering,” Mbuyisa said.

During the rainy season, households place buckets outside their homes to collect what rain water they can, according to Bongiwe Mbokazi, who lives with her grandmother in Rooikop.

“We have to wake up earlier in the morning to fetch water before the animals make it dirty,” she said. “We struggle a lot at winter because the it’s not raining and (ponds) become dry.”

Driefontein local ward councillor Esther Nkosi has pledged to help the community.

“We are still discussing on how are we going to help them with water and electricity,” said Nkosi, adding that the Premier’s Office has instructed ward counsellors to collect lists of residents without water and electricity. “We’ve send the list to the municipality and are waiting for the response.”

“For now, we will discuss what we can do to supply them with water tanks until the proper implementation of water taps,” Nkosi told OurHealth.

According to fellow ward counsellor Mhlaliseni Yende, the premier wants to ensure that all households in the province have access to water and electricity by the end of 2015.

- This post was originally published by Health-e.