Residents furious with councillor after weeks without water

“We have been smelling for days”

Photo of protesters blocking road with burning tyres

Residents of Snathing H location blocked Snathing Road because they haven’t had water for weeks. Photo: Ntombi Mbomvu

By Nompendulo Ngubane

27 May 2016

Ward 11 residents in Pietermaritzburg blocked Snathing road demanding the return of their water supply, which has been disrupted for weeks. Some have been walking kilometres to fetch water.

The protesters accused ward councillor Sipho Madonda of ignoring them for three weeks while they were without water. They said he has ordered the water truck not to supply the Snathing H location with water because they are not voters.

Residents complained that since the taps ran dry they have been unable to bath. The protest started at 4 am. They blocked the road using burning tyres, trees and big stones. Cars and taxis could not get by. Police were called to monitor the situation and Madonda was also at the scene.

Madonda denied the accusations saying the water issue is a problem all over South Africa not only in his ward. While Madonda addressed the residents, others were shouting that he must be removed as ward councillor.

He has played us for so long, said resident Tozo Gumede.

“We have no water for three weeks now. There is a water truck that supplies water in Snathing but we know that he has ordered it not to supply the H location. He says that we are not voters. I don’t know how he knows that. It’s not like he knows whether each and every person votes or not. We are not going anywhere until he sorts this out. He has to supply us with water. … I take medication and I’m struggling because there is not even a mug of water. We sometimes ask for water from our neighbours. Others now lock their gates if they see us coming. We have become a nuisance to others,” said Gumede.

When Ground Up spoke to Madonda at the scene he said, he is not ignorant of his community. “There is no one that I’m ignoring. There is only one water truck that supplies Snathing with water. I was told that the water truck doesn’t supply this part of Snathing with water and that is why I am here now. I am present so that I can sort this matter out. I have decided that as from today these residents will be supplied with water. The water truck will supply them with water today and on Sunday. That means it will come twice a week. If there are any problems after this, the community is welcome to visit my office,” he said.

Some of the residents swore and shouted at Madonda, calling him a “filthy liar”.

“You are never available on your phone when we call you,” said Ntombenhle Zikode, one of the protesters.

“He is just saying this to make us go away. We are used to his empty promises. We want water, we want to bath. We have been smelling for days. We walk five kilometres to fetch water in Nhlazatshe and that is not right. It’s far and for older people that is difficult enough. We are females and we can’t afford not to bath for so long. I am not going to vote for him. He is on the list of candidates for the local government elections but he won’t get my vote. I’d rather not vote than to vote for him. He must go,” said Zikode.