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Community members of Meqheleng had to find other ways to access water in December 2019.

The community of Setsoto Municipality in Ficksburg, Free State almost celebrated a dry festive season when household taps went dry in the early days of December 2019. Our paralegal journalist Nomaswazi Tshabalala from the Ficksburg Advice Office, reported the terrifying experience of having muddy water run from the taps at her family home in the suburb of Setsoto, affected  community members from the township of Meqheleng carried buckets with them in search of  safe water in surrounding areas and reported this dilemma to her office. At this point, Nomaswazi contacted the Municipality with the aim to bring relief to angry community members especially those who are sick, elderly, pregnant and physically challenged.

On several occasions, her attempts to speak to the former mayor Councilor Maoke were unsuccessful and she could only get through to the mayor’s personal assistant who has since December promised to get the new acting mayor, Mr. Mokoena to visit the advice office. This visit would give the mayor an opportunity to provide a transparent account of the water crisis that took place, along with an intervention strategy for the future.

“Water, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights (27) of South Africa and by the United Nations through the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030, particularly Goal 6, is a basic human right.” says Nomaswazi Tshabalala – therefore we cannot have citizens struggle in this manner.

In a CJN powered segment on Setsoto FM radio with Padi Masupe of the news and current affairs show – “Re di lata letailana”, Nomaswazi spoke about this water crisis in Setsoto in relation to human dignity and rights.

She believes that the water crisis was not due to drought, as many of the community members speculate; rather it has been due to lack of service delivery from the municipality. Water has since been restored in the community but households need to treat the water of any impurities before using it, as it still has traces of dirt in it. Noma concludes by saying rural and township communities are always on the receiving end of poor governance and remain with a lot of dissatisfaction and frustration, but as an office they’ll continue to fight for the rights of Meqheleng citizens.

Story compiled by : Ntombikayise Gijana – Editorial Mentor