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News in brief - Date: 12 April 2019
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The Democratic Alliance (DA) officially filed a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Tuesday to probe the failure of the Vhembe District Municipality (VDM) to provide consistent clean water to all residents for the past five years.
“This is a clear violation of Section 27 of the Constitution,” said Mr Jacques Smalle (DA Limpopo premier candidate) in a press release.
According to Smalle, residents in the rural villages of municipalities such as Makhado, Musina and Thulamela have been struggling to get water and no turnaround strategies have been implemented to supply water as an interim relief to the residents. He highlighted the fact that many areas, including Louis Trichardt, Tshikota, Elim and surrounds, were left without water for the past two weeks.
“The communal water taps dotted around many villages in these municipalities within Vhembe are no longer in use as they remain waterless. Some families fetch water from streams nearby where cattle and goats also drink, whilst others resort to buying water from their neighbours who have boreholes,” said Smalle. He added that the crisis also affected local businesses in all the CBDs and malls in Louis Trichardt, Elim, Musina and Thulamela. “The water crisis happens despite the launch of a R513 million water project between Valdezia and Mouwkop reservoir [in Louis Trichardt] in 2017. The water project was intended to supply water to Makhado, the Makhado Air Force Base and 33 villages within the Sinthumule and Kutama areas, but the project has been abandoned and left incomplete by a contractor,” said Smalle.
Smalle reiterated that the VDM, as the water-services authority to all these municipalities, has incurred over R1.2 billion of unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure that cannot be accounted for. “To compound the matter, the municipality illegally invested and subsequently lost more than R300 million at the liquidated VBS Mutual Bank,” said Smalle.
Smalle said the DA believed that the wasted money should have been utilised to build more reservoirs, boreholes and establish more water projects to address this crisis within the district. He said the DA urged the SAHRC to commence with their investigation and ensure that officials were held accountable for violating the rights of Vhembe residents.
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