by Naadiya Adams
A Joburg community is in crisis, as the elixir of life that runs from their taps has run dry.
At a time when hygiene is paramount and a virus rages through the country, these Newclare residents, West of Johannesburg, have been living without water for months.
The lack of this basic service has forced many of them to live from bottles to perform daily tasks like bathing and cooking. For those who live on the top floor, it’s a daily struggle of carrying litres and litres of water three stories up.
The community says they have had enough.
“I’ve been living in this block of flats now for the past three years, for the past two years we’ve been having problems with water. On, off, dripping.. . you get water dripping out of the taps, you fill the bucket and then the water just stops. And for the last week or two weeks now, no water at all. No dripping, no nothing and its really getting to us,” explained Marcel Barnard, a resident at Belinda Block, Newclare, Johannesburg.
Many of the homes affected house small kids who play and go to school and need to have regular baths especially during the pandemic, this is especially difficult for parents who have to wash their kids out of buckets or take them to family members just to have a bath.
A total of 42 units have been affected and at least 14 of these are pensioners. For them, carrying a 25 litre bottle up three flights of stairs is simply not possible, and to request a more able body to assist would mean they would need to folk out at least R20 for the service – money they don’t even have.
“Sometimes its R20, sometimes its R30 … to pay for the water to go fetch for me by people that got water you see,” explains a disabled pensioner in the block.
“I can’t use the toilet, there’s no water in the toilet. I can’t stinja properly, I can’t ghusl properly, I cant make my salaah like I’m supposed to make,” explained another pensioner.
According to residents, they have been dealing with this problem for around 2 years, but it has been most severe over the past six months where the taps are simply dry and there is no water pressure.
Attempts have been made to get the City to sort the problem out, but they have had no joy. They say the local counsellor for Ward 82 fails to take their calls or respond to any messages.
“I don’t understand why we can’t get a straight answer, or even someone just to come out and see what is the problem, nobody has come out to even see why Belinda block has no water. The council says it’s a Joburg Water problem, you contact Joburg water, they say it’s a council problem. You contact Susan Stewart who is the DA Ward counsellor for ward 82, she turns around and says oh I’m looking into it – but nothing happens,” says Taheera Lagardien, a resident at the affected block.
According to Lagardien, residents from Belinda block march to the council office on a weekly basis but still nothing has been done.
Attempts by the station to reach the counsellor have also been flouted, while a people continue to live without this precious resource.