/No water for 3 months: Thousands left high and dry as drought takes punishing toll in the Eastern Cape

No water for 3 months: Thousands left high and dry as drought takes punishing toll in the Eastern Cape

Five villages in Tsomo in the Eastern Cape have been without water for three months.

According to the Chris Hani District Municipality, the villages – Gqogqorha, Emdeni, Mahlubini Komkhulu, Mnyangula and Mmangobomvu – were expected to benefit from the R345m Ncorha bulk water project launched in 2016. It will only be now completed at the end of 2020.

Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mqamelo said the supply from existing boreholes in the area had significantly decreased. Water tankers are being used to transfer water to villages in Intsika Yethu Local Municipality.

“Within the month of October, pumps will be installed and a bulk pipeline from the borehole to the reservoir will also be installed… This is a temporary arrangement since the area is running out of water,” said Mqamelo.


Villagers from Gqogqorha have been without tap water for three months. (Yamkela Ntshongwana, GroundUp)

Villagers in Gqogqorha confirmed there was a water tank for resident but it was dry and had not been filled since drought gripped the area.

Ward 10 committee member Mandlakazi Hlazo said about 1 150 people lived in the villages, adding the drought had killed the livestock of at least 27 households.

Madoda Plaatjie, a pensioner and farmer, said he had lost 20 sheep and 40 of his 90 lambs this year.

He added his funds were now exhausted from trying to keep his livestock alive.

Ntomboyise Mabutya said people were fetching water from a stream 3km away, which the villagers share with their livestock. She added municipal water trucks were charging villagers for the water – R1 000 for 2 500l. Also, many households do not have water tanks.

But Hlazo said municipal trucks did not sell water and none of the villagers had come forward with such allegations.

Using a field as a toilet

Nomfezeko Qwane said her household now used a field as a toilet because they could not flush at home.

Since Qwane has a car, she drives 15km to Gxwalubomvu where there is a roadside tap. If she is seen, people in the local community demand she pays R20 for a 20l bucket, but the price varies depending on who catches her.

“We pay either way because we know we don’t belong in their village therefore we cannot benefit from their things,” said Qwane.

The principal of Mmangobomvu Primary School, Makosonke Mningeleli, said attendance at the school had dropped. It has 91 pupil and offers classes for grades R to 7.

The school has six water tanks but the water often gets stolen.

Some days, the school was without water and we were unable to make food for the pupils, said Mningeleli.

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