LEEUWFONTEIN – Residents of Leeuwfontein outside Marble Hall within the Ephraim Mogale Local Municipality are threatening persistent protests following the lack of water services that marred their area for years.
On Sunday, 26 September 2020, the angry residents held a meeting at the local community hall where they threatened to render the area ungovernable through protests until Sekhukhune District Municipality provided them running water.
About two weeks ago, they took to the streets and blockade all access roads complaining about water shortages. The demonstration started in the early hours of Monday 21 September where about 300 disgruntled residents barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks and other objects.
The police were deployed to various points of the township but could not stop the raging community members from protesting. The protesters demanded Premier Stanley Mathabatha to come and address their long standing water challenges. They are blamed SDM for failing to maintain water infrastructure and provide clean potable water to the community.
Kgobise Setlamorago, a community leader, said the community decided to embark on the mass action protest to raise their water shortage concerns which started since the dawn of democracy.
Setlamorago said the area had adequate water supply prior 1994 and that the problem of lack of running water started after the ANC took over the government.
“We started experiencing unexplained sporadic water cuts. Water supply infrastructure collapsed since then and nothing has been done to deal with the problem. The situation worsened over time,” said Setlamorago.
He described the shut-down as a progressive collective voice and not politically aligned to any party. Setlamorago added that they had fruitless meetings with the district municipality for many years when they were promised a bulk water pipe from Flag Boshielo Dam to deal with the crisis in the township.
“We are tired of their lies. Every time they come here they make promises they cannot fulfill. This action is the only way we can raise our concerns, this is the beginning of a series of protest actions to follow if our plea for water is not attended,” he said.
The community leader indicated that residents could not cope with the current situation in the township as they used flushing toilets and mainly depended on running water for household usage.
“The construction of pit toilets has commenced, which clearly indicated that we should just forget that the municipality will supply water to our community. We are tired of what is going on in the new South Africa,” he said.
He said they survived through buying water from those who have boreholes and drawing water from the streams and wells, drinking with domestic and wild animals.
“It is a pity that many families are surviving through social grants and cannot afford to buy water. We demand the government to exercise its responsibility and provide clean drinkable water to our community,” he said.
Setlamorago further said the action would go on until Premier Mathabatha came to address their grievances adding that they didn’t want piecemeal deals from the district municipality, but demanded something meaningful for their people.
“The total shut-down won’t be the last until our water pleas are addressed,” he concluded.
Willy Mosoma, SDM Mayoral Spokesperson, said they have a dedicated line from Flag Boshielo to Leeuwfontein, which in addition to, have dedicated 1,5 mega litre package plant supplying the township and its RDP Section.
“Honestly we have been taken by a surprise to wake up and find roads blockaded with burning tyres. We are solid in our conviction that such acts are purely criminal and cannot be condoned,” he said.
Mosoma added that they had a meeting with residents engaging on the challenge of illegal connections tempering with their system and deter smooth supply of water to their area.
“We also have water tankers which are part of the temporary intervention. We are surprised by the protest action and appeal for calm as we sort out all the existing challenges hindering water supply. We will continue making sure that Leeuwfontein people get water as required,” said Mosoma.