Technical response teams sent to Hammanskraal amid Cholera outbreak

Water and Sanitation Minister, Senzo Mchunu, has activated technical teams to work with the City of Tshwane and Health Department in response to a Cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria.

This follows the death of 12 people and the hospitalisation of others.

The technical teams will work with the national and provincial Health Departments and the City of Tshwane to assist with various matters, including an investigation into the water quality and identifying the causes for the outbreak.

The department has been continuously carrying out water quality tests at the Temba Water Treatment Works and water distribution points in Hammanskraal.

“The latest tests indicate the water quality from the Temba Water Treatment Works does not meet minimum standards. However, water supplied by Magalies and Rand Water meet the drinking water quality standards. Therefore, the water quality challenges are in central Hammanskraal, which is supplied by the city.”

The Minister has further deployed his Deputy Ministers, David Mahlobo and Judith Tshabalala, to work with Gauteng Health MEC, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, to visit Hammanskraal and the affected areas.

The Minister is expected to meet with Tshwane Mayor, Cilliers Brink, before 26 May 2023 with an aim of discussing and agreeing on a plan with timeframes for Tshwane to rehabilitate and upgrade the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works.

In a statement issued on Monday, Mchunu expressed his concern at the outbreak, noting that despite the upgrade of Temba Water Treatment Plant to a capacity of 120 megalitres a day (ML/d), the community of Hammanskraal, which is under the City of Tshwane Municipality, has been experiencing unreliable and poor-quality potable water supply for an extended period.

According to the Minister, the poor water quality is caused by the failure of Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works to meet the desirable final effluent quality for discharge to the Apies River, which in turn flows into the Leeukraal Dam.

“The Wastewater Treatment Works is situated upstream of Hammanskraal and has affected the Leeukraal Dam, where the Temba Water Treatment Works abstracts water for treatment and distribution. This has over the years led to the department instituting a series of enforcement actions (directives) against the city, and for the city to address the pollution from the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works into the Apies River and Leeukraal Dam,” Mchunu said.

After the city failed to respond to the department’s directives, the department instituted a legal process, with the aim of obtaining a court order to force the city to address the failure of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works.

The Minister said the legal process is currently underway and to date the city has opposed the legal action.

The department has also directed the city to stop supplying water from Temba Water Treatment plant to Hammanskraal residents for human consumption, and the city is currently providing potable water to affected communities, who were initially supplied by the Temba Water Treatment Plant, through the deployment of water tankers.

In 2021 the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) released a report “Gauteng Provincial Inquiry into the Sewage Pollution of the City of Tshwane’s Rivers and the Roodeplaat Dam”, which recommended, among other things, that the national government should take over the water and sanitation function of the city, in terms of section 139(7) of the Constitution, section 63 of the Water Services Act (Act 108 of 1998), and section 19 of the National Water Act (Act 36 of 1998).

However, according to the Minister, the city rejected the SAHRC recommendations.

Mchunu said the department contacted the National Treasury for funding for the intervention recommended by the SAHRC, however, Treasury indicated that the city had already been provided with funding for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works, through its Urban Settlements Development Grant (USDG) allocations.

“Consequently, the department is pursuing legal action against the city for a court order to force the city to use its USDG allocations to rehabilitate and upgrade the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works,” Mchunu explained.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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