Villagers stuck while government probes diversion of water from Giyani dam

Deputy water minister says investigation is still going on

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Deputy Water and Sanitation Minister, David Mahlobo, with Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo, who is chairman of the Topisa Trust. The Trust installed two boreholes in Bokisi village. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

Families in Bokisi village, east of Louis Trichardt in Limpopo, will have to wait for water until a probe into the suspected diversion of water from the Giyani dam by a farming company is complete.

Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation David Mahlobo visited the village earlier this month to hand over two boreholes alongside the Topisa Trust.

Topisa Trust has also provided two 10,000 litre rain tanks. But half the households in Bokisi are still not getting water, says Mafemani Makhubele, a member of the Bokisi Royal council. Bokisi, which Makhubele says has more than 700 households, falls under the Makhado Municipality. But the water authority is the Vhembe District Municipality, which, the villagers say, sends water tankers only on Saturdays.

Vhembe spokesperson Matodzi Ralushai says there is “huge demand” for water tankers in the district.

Since 2016 this community has not had tap water. Some villagers have drilled their own boreholes. Others buy water for cooking and drinking and walk to the Klein Letaba stream to get water for bathing and laundry.

Families who get water from the boreholes pay R10 per month for electricity to pump water. But the water is not enough for a day’s use. “I am a pensioner and can not push a wheelbarrow carrying buckets of water,” says Jane Khosa.

Asked when all Bokisi residents would get water, Mahlobo said this would only be possible once the Middle Letaba Dam water case had been resolved. “We are busy with investigation of the Middle Letaba Dam case where some villagers claim farmers around the dam diverted water to their own farms, making it impossible for the villages to get water,” Mahlobo told GroundUp. He did not say when the investigation would be complete.

Villagers around Giyani have accused tomato and avocado farming company ZZ2 of diverting water from the Giyani dam. ZZ2 has denied this and suggested the company was being used as a scapegoat. In January last year the provincial water department said the matter had been referred to its legal team.

GroundUp has tried repeatedly to find out from the national Department of Water and Sanitation why the probe was taking so long. Our queries were acknowledged but no response had been received by the time of publication.

TOPICS:  Water

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