E. coli blamed for Bloemhof baby deaths

The DA says more testing is needed to stop deadly bacteria from entering drinking water.

A microscopic image of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. Picture: Wikimedia Commons.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has confirmed that _ Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria_ is responsible for the recent deaths of three babies in Bloemhof in the North West.

The institute says more than 500 people were also infected after drinking water was contaminated with the bacteria three weeks ago.

E. coli can cause gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections and neonatal meningitis in those it infects.

The incident caused a public outcry and resulted in the removal of Mayor Moeder Makodi and the resignation of municipal manager Andrew Makuapane.

Yesterday, the North West provincial government announced it would set aside around R20 million to address the issue.

But the Democratic Alliance (DA) says more needs to be done, calling on the government to publicise the findings of its investigation.

The opposition party's Shadow Minister of Health Wilmot James says the problem could've been avoided.

"If we had an effective system, this wouldn't happen because the testing of water would happen automatically and regularly. But now, the testing is done after the fact," he says.

"The R20 million is a great start, but it's just the tip of the iceberg."