GRAAFF-REINET NEWS - As the Graaff-Reinet water crisis deepens, the Dr Beyers Naudé Municipality remains mum on causes and solutions for the area's empty taps.
Many residents, especially in higher areas, have had little or no running water for over two weeks. Desperate Geluksdal and Asherville residents resorted to collecting drain water last week Thursday.
The municipality claimed in a statement on Monday that the water outages were an aftershock of the Eskom power outage on 10 September, during which time water could not be pumped from boreholes.
However, residents find this hard to believe, as many claim they had little running water even before the outage.
Following pleas from communities for water, Graaff-Reinet Water Crises founder Corene Conradie took hands with Camdeboo National Parks to collect water for distribution to areas such as Asherville, Kroonvale and Santaville. Margery Parkes Hospital also received donations.
"Residents were grateful for the water, but angry at the municipality. They demand answers," Conradie told the Advertiser. "We had to control people fighting for water, and some adults even pushed children collecting water away," she added.
Municipal water trucks were also seen delivering water to areas last week Thursday, but the municipality failed to inform the Advertiser in time for print as to which areas were serviced and how much water was given.
Advertiser have witnessed people fighting over water when tankers stopped in the streets, and children running to quench their thirst. There were also tears of joy when children went home and gave water to elderly, sick and disabled people waiting inside.
According to Conradie, she received roughly 2 500 litres of water since last week Thursday, of which the last was distributed on Monday. Rosemary Scheepers, a people and conservation officer at Camdeboo National Park, estimates that tourists passing through donated around 50 litres. This has also since been distributed.
Conradie says the municipality approached her earlier this year to work together to assist communities with water supply. "It was just talk, they took no action."
Advertiser reported on 12 September that MP Samantha Graham-Maré had lodged a complaint against the municipality with the South African Human Rights Council after they failed to supply residents with water during the power outage two days before.
Graham-Maré will join residents in a peaceful protest at the Robert Sobukwe building this Friday at 12.30pm. A petition against the municipality will be signed and sent to parliament.
"The municipality has failed in its job to provide water to its residents," Graham-Marais told the Advertiser. "Their biggest failure has been in communications. If people knew they would be without water, they wouldn't be half as angry," she added
Water donations can be dropped off at the Camdeboo National Parks' offices outside Graaff-Reinet on the N9 towards Middelburg. Locals can also contact Scheepers on 072 270 5869 or Conradie on 079 226 6916.
Assembly Church is also a drop-off point, and an account has been opened at Refill in Church Street. Residents can pay an amount of their choice and WhatsApp a picture of the receipt to Conradie for collection. Her organisation does not accept money.
The municipality was approached for comment on multiple occasions.
'We bring you the latest Graaff-Reinet, Karoo news'