…By Jack Sylva for TDPel Media.
Residents in the North West Province municipality of Sannieshof are facing an ongoing water and sanitation crisis, with sewage flooding homes, streets, and even parts of a cemetery due to broken pipes and blockages in the sewerage system.
Residents have gone without drinking water for days due to a lack of diesel for borehole pumps, with even the drinking water that is available smelling like sewage.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found the district and local municipality to be in violation of the Constitution and water and environmental legislation.
The SAHRC’s Final Investigative Report from April 2023 found at least two homes in Agisanang, Sannieshof, with raw sewage pooling in their yards due to blockages down the sewerage line, preventing families from flushing their toilets.
In other areas of Sannieshof, sewage flows down streets and the cemetery is flooded with raw sewage.
The pollution flows toward the Harts River, which reflects an acid green colour indicative of an algal bloom caused by high concentrations of nitrates and phosphates contained in untreated sewage.
The investigation also found that the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality and Tswaing Local Municipality were violating provisions of the Constitution, the Water Services Act, and the National Environmental Management Act in Ottosdal and Delareyville.
Raw sewage flows out of manholes into private yards and streets in these areas, and residents go for days without water due to a lack of diesel for borehole pumps.
The SAHRC has directed the municipalities to install enough water connections to supply a minimum of 25 litres of potable water per person per day to residents of the three towns and Jachtkraal Farm, and to ensure that no resident is further than 200m from a source of potable water.
The municipalities must also provide residents with proper toilets, consult with relevant government departments to assess the towns’ water and sanitation infrastructure, and determine the cost of fixing it.
Additionally, the municipalities must submit a report to the SAHRC describing the steps to be taken in the short, medium, and long term to address the water and sanitation failures within the towns and Jachtkraal Farm.
The investigation by the SAHRC reveals significant sewage treatment failure and resultant pollution of the environment into which the effluent is released.
The national Department of Water and Sanitation Integrated Regulatory Information Services (IRIS) website also shows that sewage treatment works in Ottosdal and Delareyville fail to treat sewage to minimum standards before releasing it into local river systems.
This ongoing water and sanitation crisis is negatively impacting the health and wellbeing of residents in the affected areas.