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The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) said the torching of water tanks in Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, is a major setback in efforts to provide water to communities in need.
The department is placing water tankers and tanks in communities around the country in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to ensure that water-stressed communities have access to clean water supply to fight the spread of the killer Coronavirus.
Following the President’s call, the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, directed the department to immediately act on the President’s call to alleviate the plight of needy communities across the country.
DWS’s Gauteng Provincial Head, Sibusiso Mthembu, in a statement expressed disappointment at the torching of the water tanks, saying this was running counter to the objective of ensuring that communities were not negatively impacted by the virus.
Mthembu said many people are desperate for the assistance the department is providing in the form of water tanks and tankers, and that the actions of some community members are unjustified and utterly unacceptable.
He said: “Coronavirus is spreading at a rapid rate and communities need water to wash their hands. These acts of wanton destruction of property are infringing upon the rights of access to water of other members of the community. We condemn such acts as they demonstrate disregard for other people’s lives.”
To date, the department has provided a total of 2 232 water tanks to the Cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, as well as the Sedibeng District and West Rand District Municipalities.
Mthembu said communities which lack access to water are particularly at risk during this time. He said the intervention of the department will go a long way to ensure that needy communities are able to practice proper hygiene by washing hands with water and soap to stay healthy.
He urged communities to look after water infrastructure, reiterating that its destruction only sets back whatever strides government is making to guarantee communities are safe from the Coronavirus.