Water Crisis in Hammanskraal, South Africa

The community of Hammanskraal in the North West Province of South Africa has water issues for decades. Water supply is erratic in the best of times and non-existent in the worst of times. Community members have organised marches, burned tyres and disrupted traffic to get the local municipality’s attention on numerous occasions to no avail. 

The Themba Dam stream, where the residents of Hammanskraal get a portion of their drinking water is contaminated. When inadequately purified at the nearest treatment plant, the taps run dirty water. The challenges have been attributed to ageing Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant in Tshwane.

The South African Human Rights Council (SAHRC) recently intervened to try and resolve the water issues. Residents of Hammanskraal are hoping for long-lasting solutions after public hearings into the decades-long water crisis. The Commission’s report outlined significant health risks and diseases are caused by the water allocated by the Municipality to the community of Hammanskraal and surrounding areas.

After public hearings, Professor Jonas Letsoalo released a report that was handed over to the City of Tshwane. Part of the findings of the commission found that “the City of Tshwane has dismally, delinquently and hopelessly failed to be accountable and responsive to the water needs of the Hammanskraal and surrounding communities for the past 16 years”.

During the 2021 local government elections, community members told members of the media that they were voting for clean water. Any party that promised to finally end their nightmare would get their vote. 

As the political wrangling and lack of accountability continues in Hammanskraal, the poor keep paying a heavy price. Paying for water has become an unofficial tax, taking up to 15% of the monthly revenue in some households.