Environmental Health

Letter-writing campaign kicks off to close sewage dam

Written by Ndivhuwo Musetha

Life took an unpleasant turn for Limpopo’s Phalama community when work began on a sewage dam near their homes in 1995. Almost 20 years later, community members have had enough.

Community members have written letters demanding the dam’s closure to local and provincial leaders as well as President Jacob Zuma

Located about 270 kms northeast of Polokwane, the dam was constructed as a temporary solution by the Vhutshema Transitional Local Council, according to community forum chairperson Thiathu Tuwani.

Now, residents say they tired of the smell and have embarked on a letter-writing campaign to local officials and President Jacob Zuma in hopes that the dam will be closed.

“Since this sewerage started working in 1996, life is a living hell here,” Tuwani tells OurHealth. “As the sewerage is right at our doorsteps we directly inhale its strong smell.”

“We cannot even sleep at night because of mosquitoes that come from it,” says Tuwani, who added that the community believes that the use of mosquito repellents has led to an increase in sinus issues among children.

Together with the local traditional leader Chief Nkhumiseni Nephalama, community members say they have told the municipality to close the sewerage with no luck despite several community meetings.

Community members have written to municipal and  provincial leaders, as well as Zuma.

“No one bothered to answer our letters except the Office of President,” Nephalama says. “No wonder there are so many protest marches in the country.”

“They are because of people who ignore law-abiding citizens when they raise genuine concerns about issues affecting them,” Nephalama added.

OurHealth is in possession of copies of letters sent by the community to Mutale Local Municipality, Vhembe District Municipality, as well as the offices of the premier and the president.

Vhembe District Municipality Spokesperson Matodzi Ralushai said the municipality is still trying to find the budget to solve the problems.

“We really care about the welfare of our people,” Ralushai says. We are working around the clock to solve this problem and we hope it will be resolved soon.”

About the author

Ndivhuwo Musetha

Ndivhuwo Musetha served an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Limpopo's Vhembe Health District from 2012 to 2015.