All political figureheads, regardless of their affiliations, are either lacking in any redeeming qualities or so abhorrent that they ignite fiery indignation within the depths of our ethical convictions.

By Themba Khumalo

For over a decade, Hammanskraal has been grappling with a dire water-related health emergency that has been swept under the rug.

In a shocking revelation, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) sounded the alarm in 2019, declaring that the water in Hammanskraal was not fit for human consumption. This dire warning came after the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research conducted an independent sample analysis, revealing the disturbing truth about the water quality.

In 2021, the SAHRC sounded the alarm bells once again regarding the precarious state of the water supply in Hammanskraal. That raised, I can’t help but wonder, where has the SAHRC been hiding? Have they made any significant strides in ensuring the safety of Hammanskraal’s water supply since their last involvement? I’m itching to know what they have accomplished for the people.

Meanwhile, the political parties in charge of the City of Tshwane have been too busy pointing fingers at each other to fix the problem.

The DA, who had recently taken over the reins of the city at the time, were quick to lay the blame at the feet of the previous ANC administration. It is only a matter of time before the ANC retaliates and accuses the DA of causing the current crisis. All the while, the citizens of Hammanskraal are left high and dry, with their basic needs being sacrificed on the altar of political gamesmanship.

Amid the uproar over water quality, our worthless and obnoxious leaders,  in their typical reckless fashion, chose to mimic the ostrich and bury their enlarged and dim-witted heads in the sand. They are so utterly devoid of value and so repugnant as to incite a righteous fury within one’s moral compass.

It is a heart-wrenching reality that the lack of action from our supposed leaders has resulted in dire consequences. The repercussions are being felt by the most vulnerable members of our society, who are suffering and even losing their lives due to the neglect of providing clean and safe water.

The rapid spread of cholera throughout Hammanskraal and beyond is a clear indication that this crisis demands urgent attention. It is high time we acknowledged the Hammanskraal water crisis for what it is – a national emergency and a violation of basic human rights.

Our government’s lacklustre performance and blatant disregard for the significance of water has led to a catastrophic event of monumental proportions, with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society bearing the weight of the aftermath.

The privileged few in power who have access to a steady stream of pure water cannot fathom the agony of being deprived of safe drinking water. It is a stench and sensation that reeks of death.

Being a leader does not mean one has to be a genius to comprehend that a contaminated water supply puts countless citizens at risk of grave health issues, particularly in underdeveloped areas. Sadly, the people of Hammanskraal have fallen victim to this dire situation, leading to a devastating cholera outbreak.

More than ten years have passed since the fate of countless souls was left teetering on the edge of a knife. Alas, their safety still hangs in the balance, and it is only a matter of time before the people’s wrath boils over like a raging inferno.

Where is the fairness in our so-called constitutional democracy? And where is the genuine leadership when it comes to the overlooked infrastructure in our underprivileged neighbourhoods? We shouldn’t have to wait for a cholera epidemic or a water pollution catastrophe in Hammanskraal to acknowledge the dire outcomes of insufficient access to safe and affordable drinking water and proper sanitation.

As we come to terms with the heart-wrenching events in Hammanskraal, our attention has also been drawn to the water quality predicament in the Free State. Reports indicate that the province has recorded no less than six cases of cholera, with seventy people suffering from diarrhoeal infections. The affected areas include Vredefort, Parys, and the nearby regions of the Fezile Dabi District Municipality.

As I bring this column to a halt, it is crystal clear that the dire situation of contaminated water in Hammanskraal cannot be swept under the rug. The loss of lives demands justice and accountability. It is time for legal eagles and advocates for public interest litigation to rally behind the people of Hammanskraal and take on the government and the City of Tshwane in a class action lawsuit.

The residents are grappling with a public health crisis and enduring immense pain and suffering – they deserve nothing less than a fair fight for their rights.

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