Tankiso Tank Khumalo, a visual artist from the Matebeleng, a section in QwaQwa, has made a chilling documentary about the severity of the drought which residents in Qwaqwa, Free State, are faced with.
As noted in the documentary, residents wake up in the wee hours of the morning, they travel far distances and risk attacks from gang members to get water. They fear illness from the cold and suffer from fatigue when carrying heavy water containers over long distances.
All this, and yet the Sterkfontein Dam, which is only a stone’s throw away from Qwaqwa, is full to capacity but cannot serve the people living in the area.
Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), says the residents should note that the Sterkfontein Dam was not built to service Qwaqwa residents but rather parts of Gauteng, the Vaal, Mpumalanga and some parts of the Free State.
Ratau says one of the misconceptions among Qwaqwa residents is that the Sterkfontein Dam does not serve their communities because, unlike Gauteng residents who are the primary receivers of the water from the dam, they are poor and marginalized.
Ratau says this is not true.
He also says residents should note that a drought means that there is no water anywhere and that some parts will be more severely affected by others. He says government at national and local levels are doing the best they can do, despite the circumstances.
Ratau further adds that mid and long term plans are underway to ensure that the water supply in Qwaqwa is expanded to avoid such dire situations in the future. He says he also hopes that this will be a lesson to all South Africans on the gravity of the water shortage in South Africa and that going forward, residents will use water responsibly.