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Dire state of South African democracy and water

In the run up to national elections, the ANC is pumping resources into service delivery. Still many municipalities are so dysfunctional that they are failing to deliver. In an area not far from Johannesburg, known as eGoli or the City of Gold, police killed three men protesting the water crisis. And this is on the heels of Marikana, when police killed 34 protesting miners. This raises serious questions about the state of South Africa’s democracy. Yet, with temperatures at 30 degrees Celsius, how else can people get attention to their dire water situation other than through protest?

Army deployed to bring water to Mothutlung

Sapa | 16 January, 2014

A contingent of soldiers would be sent to the area on Thursday to help the water affairs department, spokesman Lt-Col Piet Paxton said in a statement.

“The first elements of 14 water bunkers with a protection element, escorted by military police, will reach the affected areas today.”

Three men were killed in the township during protests over water this week. On Monday, mineworker Osia Rahube and a photographer known as Bra Mike were shot dead, allegedly by police. On Tuesday Lerato Seema died, allegedly after falling from a moving police Nyala. Police said he was trying to escape from custody.

Residents claim they have been without water for at least three months.

“The main aim of this deployment is to render humanitarian assistance to the affected townships.”

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Thursday said water supply had been restored to parts of the township.

“We will continue working with the municipality at both local and district municipalities to ensure smooth running of the repaired pumps and that no further disruptions are experienced,” she said in a statement.

One pump had been refurbished and refitted, resulting in water being restored at about 60 percent of normal flow to the reservoirs. She had undertaken to have water supply fully restored to the area by Friday.

Cosatu in the North West on Thursday called for an independent investigation into the deaths of the three men.

While it welcomed a probe by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, it said the Ipid reported to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and therefore could not be independent.

“Hence the Congress of SA Trade Unions North West is calling for an independent body which is not located in the ministry to be the one investigating this matter,” provincial secretary Solly Phetoe said in a statement.

Phetoe said the trade union federation was troubled by the fact that police, not criminals, were killing residents.

“We think that the community must know who called the police, who gave instruction to killing innocent poor people who were fighting for their rights and demanding service delivery for their own families.”

The African National Congress Youth League welcomed the intervention by Mthethwa following the killings.

“We appreciate that the minister sees that there is a problem that needs to be corrected within the SAPS,” the youth league said in statement.

The organisation called for better training of public order police to ensure they could handle riots better.

“We want these police who are in this unit to be the people that our citizens trust and rely on when there are riots and related incidents.”