Tunatazama - Community Monitors

It never stops but it overflows

Khanyisile Matsaba

The Voelpan Dam, also known as the Stinking Pan has been flooding the streets of the community of Nyakallong since 2021. Since then it has been a nightmarish experience for the local people, promises after promises were made by the authorities but nothing has come of it. We’re in an election year and this has been an embarrassment for the ANC and the local government. Local councilors have run out of answers for the local residents. 

As the monitoring school team, we wrote letters to the mine to invite them to a dialogue, but they refused to join us or be part of the discussion. Our understanding is that the buck has to stop somewhere, but in this situation, everyone is passing the buck and refuse to take responsibility for what is happening. We are sent from pillar to post about this problem, neither mine nor the government wants to own up to the problem. 

In the midst of all this, the people continue to live with the problem of streets that are overflown with sewerage and human waste. The infrastructure continues to decay and collapse and no solution seems to be anywhere in sight. 

We had a three-day engagement with all the affected parties, but to our amazement, the main culprits refused to join the conversation. The mine told us that they could not be part of the conversation because the department is the one who must provide the answers to all our questions. This was done in one sentence reply to the email that we sent to Harmony. 

Recently a lot of school children have complained about stomach problems and that forced them to abandon their classes and stay home. A sizable number of mothers had to take their babies to the clinic because of abdominal pains and diarrhea, I also experienced this with my baby as a young mother. Most of the symptoms include fever, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal cramps. 

It is the responsibility of our government to ensure that the right of every citizen to live in a clean environment is respected and protected. A permanent solution will be the building of a new sewer plant instead of always unblocking the pipes that will be blocked every three days.

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