Pietermaritzburg residents protest over water cuts

Municipal workers briefly held hostage

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Photo of protesters
Residents of Ward 17, Pietermaritzburg, protested this week, calling on the Msunduzi Municipality to stop ignoring their demands for better water management. Photo: Ntombi Mbomvu

Ward 17 residents in Pietermaritzburg took to the streets on Sunday and Monday to demand that the Msunduzi Municipality resolve the water problems the community has faced for seven months.

Ikusaselihle and Izwilesizwe primary schools were also affected by the protest action. Pupils and teachers were chased home by disgruntled community members. Roads leading to Imbali Unit BB and surrounding areas were blocked with stones, dried tree branches and burning tyres.

Msunduzi Municipality officials called for calm, saying they were aware of the matter and would deal with the problem. 

But community member Saneli Dlamini said the situation was worsening in BB. Residents from unit AA also took part in the protest. Dlamini said they had run out of options.

“There are people who are sick and they are affected every day. We can’t use the flush toilets. People on medication are really suffering, as there is no water available for them to drink pills,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini said the new ward councillor, Thamsanqa Sithole, had tried to help.

“We understand that we are currently experiencing drought. The only worry is that we feel that some areas are better catered for. The municipality was providing water for us, then suddenly they stopped for five days … That is when we got angry, because we felt like we are being ignored,” said Dlamini.

According to a resident who asked not to be named, on Sunday the community kept municipal workers hostage.

“The water tanker including the driver and those who were with the driver were kept … They were later allowed to go. We now want the municipality to intervene They promised to come, but they never showed up.”

“What is confusing is that sometimes they supply water to the community and sometimes they don’t. That is the reason we are protesting today. We are aware of the drought situation, but they must work in a way that is satisfactory,” said the resident.

Spokesperson for Msunduzi Municipality Thobeka Mafumbatha said: “We are appealing to the affected communities to bear with us and use water with caution. We have formed a committee that is led by Deputy Mayor Thobani Zuma. The committee is there to monitor all the affected areas and prioritise them in emergency situations.”

TOPICS:  Water

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