KwaNobuhle families have to get their water from a hole in the ground

Taps have been dry since Friday because of a damaged main pipe

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

14 February 2024

Thabiso Malinga draws water from a leaking pipe on Tuesday. Taps in the township have been dry since Friday. Photos: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Taps have run dry in large parts of KwaNobuhle township in Kariega since Friday, leaving thousands of people desperately searching for water.

A water main next to a sewer pipe installation project was damaged by a contractor at Bucwa Street in ward 43.

In a voice note sent out on Saturday, ward 42 Councillor Lulama Ngwane (ANC) said, “The dam in Molly Blackburn has to be emptied tonight so that tomorrow [Sunday] the workers can fix the problem. There is also a problem with the valve next to the Bucwa Road site.”

In ward 45, resident Mziwabantu Glanstone said on Wednesday morning that the whole of Area 11 informal settlement, with over 3,000 households, had no water. All 30 water tanks and standpipes were dry.

“We have not seen water trucks …They are only on Ponana Tini Road in ward 43,” said Glanstone.

People have resorted to drawing water from a hole in the ground where water is leaking next to a sewer and litter lies around.

“I am here to draw water for my elder sister and her children,” said resident Athenkosi Labita. “They can use it for drinking, bathing and cooking at least. We can’t stay without water.”

Metres away is another hole, in which six-year-old Likamva Nzewuza fell and died last July.

“We are awaiting another tragedy,” said resident Thabiso Malinga.

“We called a meeting on Monday after water spouted into the sky … We keep seeing workers coming to the sewer installation site, fixing the spouting water and leaving water dripping from the rusty valve … We don’t know what they are doing there. Nobody cares in this city.”

Ward 45 Councillor Sabelo Mabuda (ANC) sent a message out on social media on Wednesday, confirming the water outage in almost all wards in KwaNobuhle.

He said a meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon with local small businesses that had threatened to halt work on the faulty valve because they want a share of the contract. “We agreed that the work of installing valves should continue after we talked.”

Small business representatives denied this to GroundUp.

Residents of Area 11 informal settlement walked about three kilometres to draw water from Noninzi Luzipho Primary School, which has two standpipes connected to water tanks.