Reporting water leakages or potholes is futile. Unless you’re a visiting news reporter.
Despite the water crisis and drought in the Western Cape and other parts of the country, water leaks at Siyanyazela in Grabouw go on for days and weeks without being fixed. The informal settlement in Theewaterskloof municipality has been in the news lately after community members protested in support of the striking workers at Oak Valley Estate.
A report by Elitsha, revealed how women in the informal settlement, which is home to most of the workers, carry the burden of poor and inadequate water services. After that report, the municipality fixed a tap that we reported was leaking, but not others. Luzuko Thuthu, a leader in the community, admitted it was fixed but that it was vandalised a few days later.
The municipality says that it is the community’s responsibility to save water and that they have a duty to report water leaks.
“We believe that all community members and organisations have to take ownership in regards to the saving of water. Water remains a scarce commodity and it must be used sparingly. The communities have a duty to report water leaks. Having said this, our own teams do routine visits/inspections to the reservoirs to maintain the water reticulation system,” said municipality spokesperson, Hugo Geldenhuys.
However, committee leader Luzuko Thuthu said that they do report issues including water leaks and road maintenance but keeps changing deadlines. “We do report water leaks and other service delivery issues and they keep promising us but when the time comes they keep changing the dates. We have been reporting the bad condition the road is in. They promised to fix it by February this year and they changed to June. We are still waiting,” he said.
The problem, according to Thuthu is that the municipality does not genuinely want to provide services and are only doing so because of the court order. The area was established in May 2016 after a group of backyarders occupied a piece of land alongside the N2 belonging to the national Department of Public Works. The Constitution obliges the government to provide residents with services after they have occupied a piece of land. A court order to that effect was issued compelling the Theewaterskloof to provide services to the community.
The municipality disputed the claim by Thuthu and said that they treat all informal settlements the same way. “We treat Siyayanzela with the same dignity and conscientiousness as we do any of the informal settlements,” said Geldenhuys.