Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  23 Jun 2014

WATER: Is the Water Time Bomb Exploding on South Africa‘


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The civil rights organisation AfriForum believes that the proverbial ticking time bomb on water quality in South Africa has exploded. This follows the recent death of three children in Bloemhof due to contaminated drinking water.

According to Julius Kleynhans, AfriForum Head of Environmental Affairs, AfriForum is concerned about poor management of and policies related to water in South Africa. “Negligence in planning, operations, management and infrastructure maintenance are causing massive pollution of our water resources. What happened in Bloemhof is unfortunately exactly what we anticipated. In terms of the Water Act, water pollution is a criminal offence which individuals can be criminally charged for. This should however also apply to government,” said Kleynhans.

AfriForum believes that the three deaths in Bloemhof should be thoroughly investigated, and the violation of the constitutional rights of the local community should be severely punished. “Someone must be held accountable for those lives that were lost”, added Kleynhans.

AfriForum predicts that the water quality situation might get worse in the country. The organisation sent letters of demand to various municipalities throughout the country in March 2014, notifying them of the water quality issues within their mandated infrastructure and threatened those who failed to resolve the issues with legal action.

“Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in South Africa. The illness can be caused by water contamination. Most of our municipalities are major contributors to sewage pollution in our natural water resources. Why has no municipal manager been locked up for this continuous life-threatening negligence yet‘,” said Kleynhans.

It has been estimated that the cost of dealing with all diarrhoea-related illnesses in South Africa (much of which is a direct result of poor water and sanitation services) is around R6 billion per year in direct medical costs and R39 billion per year in lost economic production, more than the total amount that would be needed to provide free water infrastructure to everyone in the country.

“Although we welcome the R20 million which will be spent on water infrastructure in Bloemhof, it’s a mere drop in the bucket compared to the losses families have suffered. Municipalities should act pro-actively to conserve water sources and protect communities.”

SMS the name of your town to 45344 to join AfriForum in its initiative to ensure the sustainable use and protection of our water resources. (R1/SMS)

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