Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Qwaqwa: The Department of Water and Sanitation has appealed to Qwaqwa residents, who have any information regarding the theft of batteries from water trucks, to share it with local law enforcement agencies.

The department said it is shocked and disappointed by the theft of batteries from trucks on 7 February 2020.

“This act is not a theft against the department but to all who live in QwaQwa, as these trucks are forced to cease delivering water to the people. This further delays the immediate relief that could have happened,” the department said.

The department said a full investigation will be launched into the theft of the batteries, and warned that those involved will be prosecuted.

The department said it has been working tirelessly in an effort to bring relief to the people of QwaQwa, since Minister Lindiwe Sisulu visited the area last month.

During her visit, Sisulu declared that 10 water tankers will be delivered as part of the interim measures to address water challenges, and according to the department, “this undertaking has been fulfilled”.

“Sedibeng Water has thus been given directive to immediately address water supply challenges in QwaQwa, and ensure that the desired end result is water availability and water through taps in the long run,” the department said.

Social media video footage dismissed

Meanwhile, the department has dismissed as false and misleading video footage and photos of water being flushed away, and reports of the mismanagement of drought relief funds, which are doing the rounds on social media.

“This is seemingly a tool utilized to spark more outcry and protests from the community. Some videos from other parts of the world and others even from years ago are made to seem like the current, updated material.

“This is a sign that there is a deliberate move to undermine the Minister and the department’s intervention, leading to distrust of government’s intentions.  The community should be wary of such false news and be careful not to share without verifying the nature and intent of such material,” the department said.

Refurbishment of dysfunctional infrastructure

The department stressed that Sedibeng Water is still hard at work to refurbish dysfunctional reticulation infrastructure in QwaQwa, as part of the intervention.

The department, however, noted that the dysfunctional infrastructure is the responsibility of local government.

“As the national department, the department is intervening in order to alleviate the emergency situation, but it is not responsible for reticulation. That is the domain of local government, which the department will support without taking over its responsibilities.

“While these processes unfold, it is the department and Sedibeng’s intention to ensure that all proper procurement processes are followed, and that the Public Finance Management Act is adhered to in order to avoid any prospects of irregular expenditure. The R220 million set aside for this intervention will not go to the wrong hands,” the department explained.

Sisulu has appealed to community members to exercise patience while the department, working with all the stakeholders in the area, addresses their plight within the confines of the law and National Treasury prescripts.

The community has also been requested to stay clear from rivers, especially as heavy rains can cause flash floods that can endanger lives.

“I am worried by this theft because the trucks were brought in precisely to ensure that the people of QwaQwa receive water on a consistent level, while we work with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation on long term mitigation measures.” said Free State Premier; Sisi Ntombela.

Premier Ntombela further questioned the timing and precision of the theft, which is believed to have elements of sabotage, saying that she found it odd that the criminals knew exactly when to strike.

Premier Ntombela asserts that she will engage the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) responsible for Police, Roads and Transport, Sam Mashinini, to put his best team of police officials on the case to ensure a quick arrest and prosecution of those responsible.

“The Provision of basic services, including water, remains a high priority of government. We will work together with all relevant and affected stakeholders to find lasting solutions.” concluded the Premier.