Environmental Health News OurHealth Water & Sanitation

Burst pipe wastes valuable water, cuts off Mofolo residents

Written by Lungile Thamela

Recently, a burst pipe sent hundreds of litres of clean water flowing down storm drains in Mofolo, Soweto as residents went without.

The Department of Health blamed a burst pipe for the shortage, which was fixed after about a week.

According to residents, neighbourhood pipes burst every few months. When repairs are made, they often leave behind open pits that pose a danger to local children.

When 72-year-old Dora Tshabalala awoke on the morning of 20 October at her home in Mofolo’s Skosana Street she saw the street awash in clean, drinking water.

“I immediately reported the situation to Johannesburg water and we were just given a reference number,” said Tshabalala, adding that it was not the first time a burst pipe had left residents without tap water or flushing toilets. “When I called the second time, the response was that they were coming to fix (the problem).”

Two days later, the community remained without water, according to Tshabalala.

Khuks Ndlovu says the problem has happened at least seven times previously and each time, it wastes litres of water.

“These pipes keep on busting and we keep on reporting it to Johannesburg Water but (the response) is just the same,” said Ndlovu, who had to buy water during the outage. “We are not allowed to report (the problem) directly to the councillor as they will tell us that we must report it to Johannesburg Water.”

Themba Mavuso alleged that when Johannesburg Water has come to repair the pipes, workmen leave behind gaping holes.

“The hole in front of my house is proof of what happens after the pipes busts,” he told OurHealth. “Johannesburg Water will come and dig and leave without closing these holes.”

“Eventually, one child fell inside the hole and was injured,” Mavuso continued.

Ward 36 Community Development Officer alleged that local government always reports problems to Johannesburg Water’s Avalon depot.

“(Their) response is always positive,” she said. “As a result, we even bring the inspector to check if pipes need to be changed.”

About the author

Lungile Thamela

Lungile Thamela is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Gauteng's Johannesburg Health District.