More than 70 people have fallen ill and eight have died (five of which were children) since the end of March 2021 in Orange Farm Ext 5 and 6 (60km south of Johannesburg).
The patients were attended to at Stredford Community Healthcare Centre (in Orange Farm) after presenting with stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and high temperature.
While earlier reports indicated that not many people were affected, Stredford had actually admitted 70 people for these symptoms. More patients with these symptoms were rushed to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital while others were taken to Lenasia South for further treatment. Some have been discharged since then but others are still admitted.
The matter was reported to the nearby Ext 7 Clinic and an Ext 7 Clinic health team was sent to the affected community to conduct an investigation.
In Ext 5, 6 and 7, the community doesn’t have access to any kind of public services such as proper water or sanitation, and the problem started when Johannesburg Water started renewing the water pipes in these areas. According to community leader Charles, people started to notice that the water was contaminated after the construction work started and people started to become sick with same symptoms.
Charles said the community also reported their suspicions that people were getting sick from the water to the ward councilor, Mr. Mazibukwana, but he didn’t act in time. “He was supposed to raise awareness that people should stop drinking water from the taps and provide us with the water tanks before the major damage was done,” added Charles.
In response, Mazibukwana said that when he heard about the matter he called Johannesburg Water to come and test if there was something wrong with the water and that he also called the Ext 7 Clinic Manager Mrs. Mofokeng to come and assist the community.
Mazibukwana said the test from Johannesburg Water came back clear that there is no sign of bacteria in water and now it is not clear what is the cause of so many people who are still sick with same symptoms.
Mofokeng said the Department of Health had also done their own test but the results have not yet been received and once they get the results they will compare it to those from Johannesburg Water. “But for the meantime people should boil the water before drinking it and they should report to the facility as soon as they feel sick,” added Mofokeng.
Water tanks have also been brought to supply the water-stressed community and ensure it has access to clean water supply to fight the spread of disease.
The angry community held a meeting where they said they are tired of the neglect by the councilor and his false promises since according to them, this is not the first time he came and lied to them. They said he once said he will fix the issue of title deeds, but up until today the community hasn’t received the title deeds to their homes. Secondly he promised to fix the issue of street lights and the security of the open fields in the area, now he says he will fix the water issue.
This article was submitted on 15 April 2021. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.