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Mangaung residents raise a stink as sewage problem spills over

Written by Molefi Sompane

The health of residents living in Botshsbelo is under serious threat and with their concerns falling on deaf ears within the Mangaung municipality, the number of tuberculosis cases are rising and fast.

Mathapelo Nchabeng told Health-e News that she reported the matter of running sewer in the streets over six months ago but it hasn’t been fixed.

Battling tuberculosis (TB) already, Nchabeng is worried as the third wave of COVID-19 sweeps across South Africa.

“I’m trying to fight TB and I’m also trying my best to not get infected with COVID-19. But my attempts will fade to nothing if the municipality doesn’t fix the blocakges,” she said.

Nchabeng received gravel soil as a temporary measure from her ward councillor but needs proper action to be taken and soon with residents frequently falling sick.

“We are getting sick unnecessarily. The municipality was supposed to send emergency workers to fix the blockages,” said Nchabeng.

Another resident, Serame Mohono, joined the call for urgent intervention.

“Botshabelo is stinking and this is caused by the running sewer everywhere,” said Mohono.

Mangaung Municipality flooded with calls

Ward councillor Mabereng Sefuthi admitted to thinking the Nchabeng matter had been dealt with.

“The matter was reported to me months ago and I quickly provided an alternative to help the family to prevent the dirt from entering their yard,” Sefuthi explained.

She remains adamant that the municipality is trying to attend to all the cases as they work their way through the long lists.

“I have told the community that right now, we are facing a huge challenge in the city. We are short-staffed and have lots of pipes to attend to,” added Sefuthi.

It is believed that some blockages are caused by young girls who abort their babies using illegal sites. Botshabelo, like so many other areas in the Free State, is reported to have higher numbers of young girls falling pregnant.

Dire TB situation confirmed

The Free State department of health confirmed that TB cases are on the rise.

“We continue registering rising numbers of TB patients and we have noted that in most cases, the running sewer is contributing to these numbers in our townships,” said spokesman Mondli Mvambi.

It is reported that Mangaung has over 1101 sewage and water blockages – Botshabelo has 407 of its own. And until these are repaired, Nchabeng and others will stay sick.

Mangaung Metro spokesperson, Qondile Khedama, has promised that his team are paying attention to the resident’s concerns.

“We are working together with the contractor who helps us deal with these matters,” said Khedama.

“I have reported in the past, that the number of pipe bursts and blockages keeps rising and both our workers and contractors are priotising the blockages affecting our people and leaks causing wastage. We know some of the cases are old and we want to promise our people that we will get to them.”

COVID-19 threat adding to problem

Meanwhile TB and HIV patients are advised to be cautious as COVID-19 looms large.

“We call upon those with chronic illnesses, especially our people living with TB and HIV, to continue taking good care of themselves during this time and that they should carry on with their treatments,” said Mvambi.

According to research conducted by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2018, the Mangaung Metro has the highest burden of TB patients among the five districts in the Free State. But sadly, TB Awareness roadshows – as organised by the provincial health department – have been put on ice due to COVID-19. – Health-e News

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Molefi Sompane