Water crisis reported to SAHRC – DA

Veronica van Dyk says people of Garies have been battling water shortages for well over a year

DA reports Garies water crisis to SAHRC

8 September 2019

The Democratic Alliance has reported the Municipal Manager of Kamiesberg municipality, Rufus Beukes, as well as the MEC of COGHSTA, Bentley Vass, to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for failing to intervene in the Kamiesberg water crisis. This is despite numerous calls for them to do so, their failure of which has ultimately violated the community’s right of access to sufficient water, as outlined in the Constitution.

The people of Garies have been battling water shortages for well over a year already. However, to date, there has been no intervention from government.

In effect, a water schedule, kept from 8 August 2019 to 4 September 2019, shows that the residents of Kamiesberg didn’t have water flowing through their taps for 15 days out of a total of 28 days. And on the days that there was water, pressure was so weak that it could not supply geysers.

This, unfortunately, is nothing new. Worst of all is that it is currently flower season, which means that tourism related businesses in the Kamiesberg area are especially taking strain.

While community members have tried to get the municipality to respond to the water challenge, the municipal office in Garies has instead opted to close its doors and put the telephone down in people’s ears.

In the meantime, the Department of Public Works was approached to assist with the ferrying of water to certain areas worst hit by the water shortages, to no avail. The NamaKhoi municipality has also not responded to requests for help.

Government is clearly not in the least bit concerned about its residents or the local economy.

For more than a year, the DA highlighted the Kamiesberg water crisis.

In July last year, we even called on MEC Vass to suspend Kamiesberg Technical Head, Frederik Links, following his dire inability to manage technical services, including water. This, as Links lacks the most basic qualifications and experience necessary to address the Kamiesberg water challenges.

It’s more than a year later and nothing has changed except the floundering levels of the boreholes. In fact, three of the six boreholes that supply Garies have since dried up, while the remaining three are not functioning well.

It is unacceptable that the community has lost its basic right to access to sufficient water, in some cases for days on end. This, because the municipality does not invest in necessary infrastructure and also fails to appoint employees with the requisite skills to manage the municipality’s water infrastructure.

Even in the midst of the drought in the DA run Western Cape, at no stage was there no water in the taps. There can thus be no excuse for the current situation in Kamiesberg.

The DA wants Beukes and Vass to be held accountable for failing to use the powers vested in him to monitor the situation and apply remedial action.

We also want the government, including Premier Zamani Saul, to sit up and take note of the growing water crisis in Kamiesberg and the rest of the province.

Issued by Veronica Van Dyk, DA Northern Cape Constituency Head of Kamiesberg, 8 September 2019