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Johannesburg Water holds a festival in a time of cholera

18 April 2008

Friday 18 April 2008 by Ahmed

SOWETO, JOHANNESBURG - The Coalition Against Water Privatization (CAWP) together with Kliptown Concern Residents (KCR) visited the family that lost its mother because of cholera.

One of two confirmed cases of cholera in Kliptown, Kelebogile Malefane’s death has seen the Gauteng Department of Health spring into an awareness campaign in Kliptown to try contain the outbreak. While it is a shock to everyone in the community to lose one of its members, it should not be a surprise while the government’s neglect of pleas for emergency intervention to combat the social and environmental crisis makes it fully responsible for her death.

All over Kliptown there are posters and field workers from different local clinics in Soweto warning people about the threat of cholera infection. Residents live in fear as they wonder who is next. In a mass meeting called by the ward councillor, Mandla Mtshali, the community’s directed its anger at the government for its failure to deliver on its promises.

The ward councillor together with nurses advised people to wash their hands after using the toilet and before eating and on best practices in the preparation of food to avoid contamination. These lectures on personal hygiene only raised tensions as the residents lambasted the African National Congress (ANC) ward councillor for failing to deliver. Realizing that things might not go well in the meeting, one of the nurses stood up and told residents not to fear anymore. The woman told the meeting that a few communal taps were checked as well as the bucket toilets and none evidenced cholera. The only bacterial threat found, she said, was E-coli which can ‘only’ lead to diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Despite all efforts undertaken by the poor residents of Kliptown to get its attention, the City continues to turn a blind eye. So many marches, people’s inspections and invitations sent to Amos Masondo to come and witness the living conditions have gone by unanswered that it’s no use counting. The lesson is clear that quiet restraint wins no concessions from those in power and more direct action is needed. The CAWP is calling on the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Department of Health and Johannesburg Water to immediately act on the crisis in Kliptown. Without water and sanitation more people will continue to fall ill in this community.

Johannesburg Water holds a festival

Johannesburg Water is holding a weeklong festival next week at Elkah Cricket Stadium, Rockville Soweto. The Coalition Against Water Privatisation will be staging pickets at the festival on the 21st, 24th and 26th of April.

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For more information please contact: Patra Sindane Coalition Against Water Privatization (Organizer) @ 073 052 7005


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