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By Dimakatso Modipa

 Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu addressing the community of Hammanskraal in Tshwane photo by Dimakatso Modipa
Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu addressing the community of Hammanskraal in Tshwane photo by Dimakatso Modipa

Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu has put his head on the block and promised that come September 2024, residents of Hammanskraal will have potable water in their households.

Mchunu made this promise at a community engagement meeting attended by himself, other government officials and City of Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink on Wednesday.

Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu, city of mayor Cilliers Brink started by the conducting an oversight inspection at the Rooiwaal Wastewater treatment works and Klipdrift package plant project in Hammanskraal before engagement with the community.

At the moment water tankers are being used to provide the residents with water.

The City of Tshwane has reassured residents that the reconstruction of Rooiwaal is on the right track and that the municipality has assigned Deputy Mayor Nasiphi Moya and her committee to conduct an intrusive, weekly monitoring exercise to make sure there is compliance in the construction of the Rooiwaal Water Treatment Plant.

Minister Mchunu announced that this time around there won’t be any shenanigans as the municipality and the government will be keeping a close eye on the project.

Mayor Brink announced that the Rooiwaal Water Treatment Plant, which will cost R4 billion, will be ready for use in 2026, but that the municipality was in the process of completing the construction of a temporary water treatment package plant at Klipdrift.

Mchunu said people must not get ahead of themselves regarding allegations that the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal is as a result of the sewage emanating from the ill-functioning Rooiwaal Water Treatment Plant.

According to Mchunu, there is no conclusive proof in this regard as tests could not find any cholera symptoms in the Rooiwaal Water Treatment Plant.

Nevertheless, Mchunu passed his condolences to the families of those who died of cholera in Hammanskraal, insisting that this is something that should never have happened.

He revealed that reconstruction of the Rooiwaal project started late as his department and the City of Tshwane first had to find funding then conduct tender processes before reconstruction could resume.

community of Hammanskraal engagement with Minister, mayor and officials' photo by Dimakatso Modipa
community of Hammanskraal engagement with Minister, mayor and officials’ photo by Dimakatso Modipa

According to Mchunu, a company called Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) has been awarded the R4 billion tender to complete construction of the Rooiwaal WasteWater Project.

Mchunu and Brink then fielded questions from the residents regarding the water crisis in Hammanskraal.

Although the package plant at Klipdrift will be up and running soon, Brink expressed concern that in this country sabotage of infrastructure is a reality and that security measures must be put in place to prevent the temporary plant from being vandalised.

“We are not in the business of using water tankers, but we are in the business of providing people with clean water in their taps,” said Brink to the enthusiastic residents.

One resident expressed joy that Brink hinted at the possibility of scrapping debts of these who owe the municipality for services.

A woman resident announced that she would be taking legal action to claim damages for medical expenses and damaged school uniform of her kids.

She told the meeting that her children’s school uniform was damaged by the faeces borne in the water emanating from Rooiwaal Wastewater Treatment Plant.

According to the woman, her child got sick after consuming the contaminated water from Rooiwaal and had to be hospitalised.

Zonal Secretary of the local branch of SANCO expressed concern that the families of the victims of cholera were compensated with R15 000 each but wanted to know where the compensation money came from and whether it really reached the intended beneficiaries.

There are crooked lawyers who have scammed some of the families of the victims of cholera, so I want to know what is being done to stop those lawyers in their illegal activities,” complained Nyathi.

Another resident from Marokolong claimed that all areas in Hammanskraal have been developed except his hometown.

“I am challenging you now to go with me to Marokolong where you will see burst sewerage pipes full of faeces,” he said as a way of challenging Brink and Mchunu.

In response, Brink announced that the R15000 paid to families of victims of cholera came from the City of Tshwane not as an admission of guilt but due to the fact that it was discovered that those families were indigent.

He said he didn’t know anything about lawyers who might have scammed the victims of the families, this as he personally gave the money to the bereaved families from a programme known as the Mayoral Donations Fund.

On the issue of the shenanigans that took place regarding the construction of Phase 1 of the project, Brink announced that disciplinary action was being taken against those who might be involved in actions that eventually led to progress of construction stalling at Rooiwaal.

He also said the city was cooperating with the Special Investigating Unit to identify anyone one who might have been involved in the Rooiwaal scandal.

On the issue of leaking sewerages in Hammanskraal, the mayor said this is the jurisdiction of regional service delivery director Godfrey Mnguni who would deal with the matter in the near future.

MMC for Utilities in the City of Tshwane Themba Fosi told the gathering that the City of Tshwane will have to conduct an audit of all water metres in Hammanskraal before existing bills and debts would be scrapped.

“The Klipdrift package plant will be supplying clean water to the residents and the residents must pay for consuming the water,” said Fosi.

Fosi was howled by some residents when he said the EPWP project has been stopped temporarily because it was only benefitting only members if a certain political party while ignoring those who were not affiliated to the said party.

Minister Mchunu said the Rooiwaal project will offer job opportunities to both labourers and contractors in the community.

“But these opportunities must be given in a fair and open process,” he said.

He lamented the fact that there are gangsters who persecute those who have won tenders in pursuit of what is called “protection fee.”

Regarding the water crisis in Tshwane, Mchunu pointed out that there is a group of gangsters in Mamelodi which has connected water and electricity illegally from the local reservoir, resulting in these resources being diverted away from the households of the rightful beneficiaries.

Ward 49 Councillor Adam MashMashapa appealed to residents not to throw just about everything into their toilets as this leads to blocked seweges.

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