RDP houses built 20 years ago still have no water

Residents of Mtititi have to walk up to 2km to fetch water – and when they get there the taps may be dry

By Bernard Chiguvare

4 November 2020

These houses in Mtititi village in Limpopo were built in 1999 but the village still has no water supply. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

Before 11am, residents of Mtititi in Limpopo drop off their 25-litre containers in neighbouring Muhunguti village, waiting for water to be pumped to taps. The 650 RDP houses in Mtititi, built in 1999, have no water supply at all. Some villagers have to walk up to two kilometres to Muhunguti. And if they don’t get there early enough, the taps may be running dry.

There is one 5,000-litre Jojo tank and five communal taps in Muhunguti village. A second Jojo tank broke in 2016 and it has not been replaced. Pumping water to the taps and the tank starts at 6am and the jojo tank is full by 11am. The pump is closed at 6pm until 6am the following day.

Grace Manarenga was the first to fill her containers. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

When GroundUp visited on Friday, Grace Manarenga was first in the queue to fill her four 25-litre containers with water at a communal tap. “I have to drop my containers at the communal tap early. If I delay, the queue will stretch far,” she said.

Ernest Nhalangu was delivering water to neighbour Nyiko Shonga’s home. Shonga has a three-month-old baby and needs plenty of water for laundry. “I cannot wait for 11am to get water. It is either I buy or I ask my neighbour to fetch water from other villages where there are individuals who drilled their own boreholes,” she said.

“I just offer help because I understand she is not yet strong enough to carry water from the borehole,” said Nhalangu.

At 11am the working jojo tank was full. Manarenga was the first to fill her four containers. Cattle from a village nearby also came searching for water. Some of the cattle drank from the spillage.

“I have a big family and we need a lot of water … We have no option but to buy from people who drive around,” said Manarega.

Evans Chauke was busy doing laundry near the communal tap. “I wash my blankets after three months because of this water issue. I am unemployed and cannot afford to buy water to do my laundry,” he said.

Evans Chauke doing his laundry at the communal tap. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

Community leader Given Magoveni said the single jojo tank was not enough to supply the community after the taps run dry at 6pm. “One tank cannot supply the whole community till the next day at 11am. Once the pumping is stopped at 6pm, the community stops getting water,” he said.

The village falls undere Collins Chabane Municipality but Vhembe District municipality is the water authority. Its Mtodzi Ralushai said the pumping rate depended on water availability in the underground reservoir. “In this case, the borehole can only be pumped for not more than eight hours.” He promised the municipality would attend to the broken jojo tank.

He did not explain why Mtititi village had no water supply more than 20 years after the houses had been built.

One of the two jojo tanks in Muhunguti village has been broken since 2016. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare