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Protesters shut down Polokwane over water shortages

Protesters shut down Polokwane over water shortages
Protesters from Seshego in Limpopo closed down the centre of Polokwane on Wednesday and blocked the N1 to demand that the mayor deal with water supply issues. (Photo: Bernard Chiguvare)

Hundreds of angry Seshego residents brought the centre of Polokwane to a standstill on Wednesday, demanding that the mayor fix the water supply.

  • Protesters from Seshego in Limpopo closed down the centre of Polokwane on Wednesday and blocked the N1.
  • They demanded that the mayor take steps to fix the water supply.
  • They say their taps keep running dry and water bills should be scrapped.
  • The mayor did not appear in person to accept their memorandum.
  • Polokwane municipality says the mayor would meet the minister of water and sanitation on Thursday to discuss the issue.

‘It is not going to be business as usual at the municipality. The mayor has failed us,” said Seshego community leader George Thembo.

Thembo was speaking to GroundUp after he had addressed thousands of protesters who travelled to Polokwane municipality on Wednesday to hand over a memorandum of demands to mayor Mosema John Mpe.

“The municipality is pushing us to the extremes. One of these days we are going to carry buckets of shit from Seshego and throw shit all over Polokwane municipality offices. We want the mayor to feel how bad it is to live under such conditions,” said Thembo.

Thembo said Seshego residents had protested several times but to no avail.

“Today we are not going anywhere unless the mayor responds to our memorandum,” said Thembo.

Residents want a consistent water supply and they want the municipality to write off their water bills since their taps are regularly dry.

At around 10am, protesters closed several streets. Businesses and government offices, including the Polokwane municipality offices, closed their doors as minibus taxis offloaded protesters.

In Seshego, only matric learners were allowed to attend school. Police first blocked the arrival of the protesters but later let them through, said protester Grace Ngwetjana.

They sang and danced as they waited for Mpe, but he did not appear.


Protesters closed several streets including Bodenstein Street. Businesses and government offices, including the Polokwane municipal offices, shut down as minibus taxis offloaded protesters. (Photo: Bernard Chiguvare)

When the leaders of the protest decided to send a delegation to meet the mayor at his office, an angry crowd called them back. As leaders debated the next course of action, protesters gathered in groups along Bodenstein Street, some standing, others sitting, holding sticks and sjamboks.

A councillor arrived to receive the memorandum but the protesters refused to hand it over to anyone but Mpe.

Thipa Selapa, spokesperson for Polokwane municipality, said the council would implement measures to address the water challenges. These included negotiating with Eskom to exempt the water plants from load shedding.

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A task team composed of the municipality, Lepelle Northern Water and the Department of Water and Sanitation had been set up and was meeting frequently to resolve the water crisis. Selapa said the Minister of Water and Sanitation would meet the mayor on Thursday.

Speaking to GroundUp, Maphuthi Maseokameng, 60, said water was pumped into the system after each protest, but then the taps ran dry again.

She said tankers brought water three times a week – at night.

“Imagine at my age waking up in the wee hours to get water from trucks. This is wrong,” she said.

Later, protesters closed the N1 with stones and bricks. They formed a human wall and told motorists to stop or use alternative routes.

Noticing two police Nyalas in the area, some protesters took to their heels. DM

First published by GroundUp.


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