Mbizana thirsts for service
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.
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