Pumula stands together on water crisis

Enough is enough! Pumula resident Brian Burger has had no water for more than 18 days.

A community meeting was held in Pumula last Thursday to drum up support for the mass lawsuit petition being drawn up against Ugu District Municipality.

More than 100 people signed the petition at the meeting, adding to the reported 6 000 names already on the document.

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Pumula and other areas along the coast were still facing water problems this week, with some households having been without water since well before Christmas.

One of the issues raised at the meeting was the withholding of payment to Ugu. This idea was met with mixed reaction, and the general consensus was that those wanting to follow this route should pay a nominal R50 for three months as sign of protest, bearing in mind that the balance would still be legally due.

Deon Pretorius from T and T Drilling addressed the meeting on the option of sinking a borehole, outlining the general scope of such a project.

The legal fraternity was represented by attorney Dean Strachan from Pietermaritzburg, who had also been affected by the water crisis as he owned a holiday cottage in Pumula.

The meeting was advised that the first step towards a mass lawsuit would be the laying of a criminal charge, followed by civil action.

Samantha Botha is the driving force behind the petition, set up at www.change.org.

The petition can be signed online, or by collecting a copy from any one of 30 outlets along the coast, signing it and placing it back in the box at the outlet.

For more information on the petition, email [email protected] or follow the Facebook page: Ugu Mass Lawsuit.

The Pumula community in particular had been badly affected by the lack of water. Second Avenue resident Leonie Pretorius, who has two small children, told the Herald that living without water had been ‘hell’ for her family.

She said that after her 18-month-old son had undergone surgery to his cleft lip, he picked up a nasty infection.

“It’s been so hard to keep him clean without access to running water.” she said. “Not having water is a major health issue and it’s been a costly affair travelling back and forth to Durban to have him treated for the infection. And on the occasions we DO have water, it’s usually brown, sandy, and contains far too many chemicals. It even smells at times.”

Michael and Caryl Stanley from Third Avenue said they hadn’t had water since the end of August. “We are angry and upset. Despite not having water, the meter still ticks, so we feel we are paying Ugu and are getting nothing in return.”

Dr Rishigen Viranna MPL, the DA’s Ugu South Constituency head, released a press statement this week saying the unbearable situation had left the party ‘with no choice but to push to have the entire Ugu District Municipality placed under Section 139 administration’.

This action, he said, would allow for a competent administrator to be appointed to better handle the water crisis.

He added that the DA would continue its fight in the National Assembly to ensure that all Ugu’s bulk water services were handed over to Umgeni Water.

“Again it was the poor, sick and elderly who bore the brunt of the impact. The affected areas included many retirement villages and numerous elderly residents. The South Coast tourism industry usually thrives over the festive season, but this year the reputational damage to the industry is incalculable,” the statement read.


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Shona Aylward

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