Taps run dry while broken pipe wastes water for a month

“Our government says we must look after water because of drought. But it seems they do not practise what they preach,” says Eastern Cape villager

Photo of two women doing washing next to a pool of water on open land

Villagers of Vonqo and Jadezweni say clean water has been leaking for a month while their taps are dry. Photo: Mbulelo Sisulu

By Mbulelo Sisulu

16 July 2019

Taps ran dry over a month ago in some villages in Idutywa, Eastern Cape. The villagers say a broken pipe is wasting thousands of litres of water daily even as they sit with empty taps.

Home to more than two thousand people, Vonqo and Jadezweni are off the N2 between Butterworth and Mthatha.

The broken pipe takes water to the villages from a large tank supplied by the Mbhashe River.

Resident Mxolisi Thwala said, “Our municipality [Amathole District] does not care about thousands of litres of water that are wasted. Our government says we must look after water because of drought. But it seems they do not practise what they preach.”

“Now we drink water with animals because of this leakage,” said Thwala.

Resident Monde Greva said they are now using water from a dam but it isn’t treated or purified. “There are old people who live alone in their houses so they have to hire people to fetch water for them because this dam that we are using is far,” he said.

Geva said villagers who live closer to where the pipe is broken are lucky.

No-Amen Ntlava, an elderly resident, said: “There are young boys here who have donkeys so I hire them to fetch water for me. They charge R5 per five litres [of water].”

Vuyani Nodase says: “I went to Amathole offices [in Idutywa] more than five times to report about this leakage … Whenever we report this matter to them, they say they are going to fix it.”

He said an official told him a pipe had to be ordered from East London. GroundUp was unable to confirm this; official media inquiries to Amathole District Municipality went unanswered.

Water and sanitation liaison officer for the Eastern Cape Thandi Ngcume said: “It is the responsibility of Amathole to fix that leakage. Our duty as the department is to fund the municipality when they need help. I am very surprised that this matter was reported many times to Amathole. It is our duty to put pressure on them to fix that problem … I am going to do a follow up.”