Bethlehem informal residents beg water off neighbours

Bethlehem informal residents beg water off neighboursWar rooms will bring together representatives from various government departments to improve service delivery (File photo)

Residents of Silahliwe informal settlement outside Bethlehem share one working toilet for about every 900 people. According to local officials, securing access to water and sanitation may mean that about a third of the settlement’s residents will have to move.

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Coming in contact with raw sewage puts people at risk of contracting a number of illnesses, many of which cause severe diarrhea and pose particular dangers to young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Coming in contact with raw sewage puts people at risk of contracting a number of illnesses, many of which cause severe diarrhea and pose particular dangers to young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. (File photo)

An estimated 1800 people call the Silahliwe settlement home and share just eight water taps and five toilets, only two of which are working. Long, snaking queues for taps and toilets lead  to desperate measures, say residents.

“We normally wait in queues, but some of us we just (relieve) ourselves on the ground because we cannot wait for that long just to use the toilet,” resident Motlalepula Mahlangu told OurHealth.

Long queues for drinking water have also led to fighting between residents, according to Matlakala Mosia.

Community members also reported walking to nearby communities with piped water to beg for water. While the municipality has installed taps in the community, these have not kept pace with the growing settlement.

Dihlabeng Local Municipality Mayor Tjhetane Mofokeng said that the municipality plans to erect RDP houses for residents of the settlement with piped water. However he said that about a third of the community will be forced to leave.

“Silahliwe is an informal settlement which will be done away with and then the area will be formalized by building RDP houses and about 500 households will be moved”, Mofokeng said.

 

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