A year after SANDF intervention in Vaal, residents see no change in services

Some residents of Sebokeng in the embattled Emfuleni Local Municipality are now threatening to stay away from Wednesday’s by-elections after having to go without water for several days.

An SANDF technical team works to restore infrastructure at the polluted Vaal River system. Picture: @SANDFCorpEvents/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - A year after the army’s intervention in the Vaal District, some residents said that they were yet to see any change in the delivery of basic services in their community.

Some residents of Sebokeng in the embattled Emfuleni Local Municipality are now threatening to stay away from Wednesday’s by-elections after having to go without water for several days.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was deployed to the area in 2018 for a year to help restore capacity to failing water treatment works and stem the flow of raw sewage into the Vaal River.

Some residents of Sebokeng, who’ve had to make do without water for several days, said that they’ve had enough of being deprived access to their basic human rights.

“Every week, especially around our area, we struggle with water,” one resident said. Another said: “To be honest, I don’t think I will take part in the elections,” another said.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: 200 SANDF technical team deployed in the Vaal

One woman said that while having to contend with persistent water cuts in the community, they were also faced with environmental problems, including raw sewage seeping through their homes, streets and even schools.

“My neighbour had a problem with sewage and sometimes, the children play in the sewer water outside. It’s been about a month now.”

It’s understood that the municipality is in arrears of about a R1 billion with Rand Water and from this week, water supply has been reduced by 20%.

The residents are threatening to boycott Wednesday’s by-elections, accusing government of ignoring their plight for years.

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