DA reports Sol Plaatje to SAHRC for ongoing water crisis

09 Oct 2019 in Press Statements

DA councillors visited the Newton Reservoir today where worryingly low water levels continue to affect the supply of water to Kimberley residents. See photos here, here and here. Find attached a soundbite by Cllr Christopher Phiri.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Northern Cape has today reported Sol Plaatje Municipality to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for violating Kimberley residents’ basic right to water.

Since the scheduled upgrade of water infrastructure, that saw water being turned off on Wednesday evening, last week, there are still certain areas that have yet to have their water restored seven days later. This is despite an initial commitment by Sol Plaatje that the water would have been restored by last Friday night already. Residents in other areas have meanwhile been battling with on-again, off-again trickles of water since the weekend.

Despite the DA already having complained about a lack of transparent and direct communication from Sol Plaatje on the water issue, residents remain unaware of the extent of the crisis. Residents, schools, old age homes, businesses, hospitals and other organisations, that are directly affected by the water crisis, are unable to plan, because they just don’t know when and if the water will come on, and if so, for how long.

All this time, Sol Plaatje has folded its arms and put zero contingency plans in place to assist residents. Even Sol Plaatje Executive Mayor, Patrick Mabilo, has displayed no political will to help and has shrugged off queries from DA councillors, instead referring us to the municipal spokesperson, who is an official and who does not have the mandate or the authority to devise an emergency plan.

The DA is dumbfounded by this utter disregard for the people of Kimberley.

In any other municipality, water tanks would have been set up and rotated amongst communities in need. The Defence Force may even have been approached to help with water tankers. Yet, in Sol Plaatje, residents are time and again left high and dry.

Sol Plaatje says the JoJo tanks that it used in previous water shutdowns have been vandalised and stolen but they don’t say why. It is because these JoJo tanks were left unattended in certain areas, for long periods, after water had been restored. Thieving and vandalism is criminal, but it is unfair to make city residents pay the price for the municipality’s own failure to secure its tanks in the past.

Sol Plaatje simply must be held accountable for unjustifiably disrupting schooling, health care, business and the lives of all who live in Kimberley. They are not only making life in Kimberley unbearable but are also exposing residents to undue risk.

The DA has submitted a basic complaint to the SAHRC this morning and we will be in further communication with the commission to provide them with more detail, as and when needed.

The DA will continue to put up a fight for improved communication, for improved management of water and other bulk services, and improved delivery of basic services.

We cannot and will not accept the status quo of Sol Plaatje’s services. Kimberley is the province’s capital city and should be the epitome of excellence, not the armpit of the Northern Cape.