Bloemhof baby deaths: mayor removed

Three babies died and at least another 20 were hospitalised after drinking contaminated water.

People queue for water in the township of Boitumelong in Bloemhof in North West on 29 May 2014. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Lekwa-Teemane municipal mayor Moeder Makodi has been recalled by the African National Congress (ANC) in the wake of protests and a water contamination crisis which killed three babies in Bloemhof in the North West.

Bloemhof forms a part of the municipality which is situated on the province's border with the Free State, on the shores of the Vaal River and Bloemhof Dam.

In recent weeks, three babies from the Boitumelong township were killed and more than 20 hospitalised after water supplies in the town were contaminated with a deadly bacteria.

The tragedy was highly publicised and made headlines again when the Institute of Race Relations blamed it on government's affirmative action policies.

The institute said affirmative action was directly at fault for the deaths, saying incompetent people were employed in the municipality's top positions purely because of the policy.

On Sunday, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo reportedly told residents at a special meeting in Boitumelong that the ruling party had decided to remove Makodi as part of its move to bring stability to the region.

It's not yet clear whether a new mayor has been appointed to replace her.

Last week, municipal manager Andrew Makuapane resigned a few days after being suspended over the same issue.

In April, residents in the area held protests demanding the dissolution of the municipality, accusing council members of corruption and maladministration.

The protests turned violent with residents torching several homes and vehicles belonging to council officials and police officers, with various other incidents reported.

During the unrest, one person was killed, two critically injured and hundreds arrested.

A joint task team is now investigating the problems in Bloemhof, including a sewage spill that led to the water contamination.