Mbizana thirsts for ser­vice

CityPress - - News - LUBA­BALO NGCUKANA luba­balo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

Sev­eral Mbizana Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity vil­lages in the OR Tambo District of the East­ern Cape are fac­ing a wa­ter cri­sis.

Mang­wanya Mpinda, a mother of six from Mtwembu vil­lage, waited six hours on Fri­day for her turn to get wa­ter from a stream which the drought has re­duced to a trickle. Small pieces of plas­tic pasted against the rock­face fun­nelled the wa­ter into the 20-litre bucket she’d found there that morn­ing. Some­times she goes home empty-handed. “Oh! If only they could help with tap wa­ter here. This small stream is not enough. We some­times fight over who will come first. Women have to wait to get the wa­ter that comes from th­ese small and slow drops.

“You have to be pa­tient,” said Mpinda, in her ANC T-shirt.

Next to the stream is an­other small source of wa­ter but Mpinda and other lo­cals can use it only for wash­ing clothes and school uni­forms.

“The drought has made a bad sit­u­a­tion worse. Rivers have dried up and there is no wa­ter any­where.”

Mpinda and her hus­band sur­vive mainly on their state pen­sions and the child sup­port grants of two of their grand­chil­dren. Their six chil­dren are un­em­ployed and de­pend on odd jobs in the vil­lage for cash.

They live in a mud-brick house and, for their ablu­tions, they use their makeshift toi­let or the sur­round­ing bush.

No­mashefu Ntingiso lives in a cracked home made of mud and sticks. It looks as if it could col­lapse.

“I have been wait­ing for govern­ment to build me an RDP house which I was promised in 2006 af­ter my home was af­fected by a tor­nado,” she said.

Only one of her three chil­dren is work­ing and it is this child who is try­ing to build a house for her. It stands in­com­plete nearby.

Ntingiso lives with her un­em­ployed grand­son, Bon­gani Njima. He dropped out of school and sur­vives on odd jobs. He makes about R3 500 in six months, and the money sup­ple­ments Ntingiso’s state pen­sion.

Their only wa­ter sup­ply is a com­mu­nal tap nearby. It has been bro­ken for nearly three weeks.

“We ei­ther get wa­ter from the river or put out a 120litre drum to get wa­ter when it rains. Wa­ter is a big prob­lem in Mbizana,” she said.

Ntokozweni vil­lage cousins and school dropouts Noz­in­tombi Mo­hikwa (25) and Si­man­gele Dwayise (18) raise their four chil­dren, aged be­tween two months and four years, in two ron­dav­els. Their in­come con­sists of child grants. The mu­nic­i­pal­ity built the toi­let they use, but they have to walk an hour to get wa­ter from the river.

“We have to carry a 20-litre bucket on our heads while hold­ing an­other in one hand,” said Dwayise.

The cousins col­lect wood from the nearby for­est to cook and save on elec­tric­ity costs.

“Our vil­lage is very back­wards. There is no ser­vice de­liv­ery. Wa­ter is the most es­sen­tial and ba­sic thing to have, yet it is ex­actly what we do not have,” she said.

PHOTO: LUBA­BALO NGCUKANA

TOUGH TIMES No­mashefu Ntingiso and grand­son Bon­gani Njima live in a cracked home made of mud and sticks in Mbizana in the ru­ral East­ern Cape

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