Nurses and patients have to bring their own water to this Limpopo clinic

Nthabalala clinic near Elim has not had running water since mid-2022, according to residents

By Bernard Chiguvare

27 March 2024

Nthabalala clinic near Elim in Limpopo has not had running water since mid-2022, according to community members. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

Staff and patients at the Nthabalala clinic near Elim, Limpopo have to bring their own water in containers. The clinic has not had running water since mid-2022, according to community members.

Residents say that a borehole installed near the clinic —which services about 11 villages — broke down in 2022 and was never replaced.

Nthabalala village falls under Makhado municipality and is about 24 kilometres from Elim.

Neil Shikwambana, Limpopo Department of Health spokesperson, told GroundUp that they are aware of the problem. “The Vhembe District Municipality, which is the water authority, is providing water through tanks to the clinic,” he said. Shikwambana said the department would drill a new borehole.

The Vhembe municipality on Wednesday told GroundUp: “Water trucks supply clean water but the allegations will be investigated.”

John Makamu, one of the community leaders, confirmed that the Vhembe District Municipality has started bringing water in tanks to the clinic, but said the water is not suitable for drinking.

“Patients and nurses should not be carrying water from their homes,” said Makamu.

Molatedzi Ramaano from the Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union said: “We have had complaints of patients who need to be rehydrated or mothers giving birth who need a lot of water. We call the relevant department to adhere to the principles of hygiene that could threaten the lives of our patients.”

A pregnant woman leaving the clinic with her friend on Monday said: “We have been at the clinic since morning for routine baby checkups. There is no water. We are supposed to take water bottles with us every time we visit the clinic.”