Tunatazama - Community Monitors

Untreated Sewage water from Tsakane to the Spruit.

By Meshack Mbangula

Health concerns are rising for the community of Steve Biko informal settlement in Tsakane for people who don’t have information of what they local Government is doing wrong. Tsakane is in Ekurhuleni far east of Joburg near the town called Brakpan with a population of over 50 000 people and a high rate of unemployment.

Most of the people came to Tsakane because of Mining and when the mine closes they remained without work.  ERWAT is situated in Rockville one of the sections of Tsakane and has a station that treats sewage water before it flows to the spruit which flow to Vaalriver. There are two stations which have not been working for almost a year now, when ERWAT is finished treating the water it flows to the Tsakane spruit and mixes with the untreated sewage water from the stations which are not working and are tendered to one of the businessmen known as Manentsa.

The spruit flows past the Steve Biko informal settlement, that’s where  the concern is, the  negative health impact to those people because they use this water because they are not informed. We spoke to Elias, the leader of the community about the conditions of the water and the health problems it can cause. Secondly, we interviewed an old man who owns goats and sheep about the situation, he said that nobody buys his goats because they drink from the contaminated water. Both the leader and the owner of the sheep were very shocked.

We spoke to ERWAT employees about the problem they told us that is useless for them to clean the water because the water mixes with the untreated water at the spruit and they know that the guy who is owning the tender is paid every month. We tried to call Manentsa his phone is always on voicemail. The local government officials said they  have to talk the ERWAT manager about the problems but they will try and find more information about it.

We decided that we should meet the Community of Steve Biko and do physical mapping that allows people to explore their community`s health related resources and barriers in a visual way. This will help us to solve all the problem one time with informed community and still we have after educating the community srategise on action.

What can civil society do to get water governance in South Africa back on track? Community monitoring is the answer.