Suur water: Polisie skiet op betogers
Residents in the township of Silobela in Mpumalanga have staged two days of protests against the heavy pollution of their drinking water bubbling up from disused mine-shafts which the ANC-regime no longer pumps acid-polluted water from to stop the acquifers and streams from being polluted.
Silobela and Carolina residents have not had clean drinking water for the past five months, writes environmental reporter Elise Tempelhoff of Beeld newspaper from the town.
Dr. Koos Pretorius, director of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, whose help was requested by Carolina residnets, sasid the local authorities cannot control the pollution bubbling up from the mineshafts below with sewerage-treatment plant. "The water-purification plant was not built to clean and process acid mine water. The real guilty parties here are the Departments of Water Affairs and Mineral Resources and the pollution from the mines which are removing coal from the upper-reaches of the Boesmanspruit Dam.'
A thirty-four year old man underwent emergency surgery to his right long when he was caught in a hail of rubber bullets fired by the SAPS riot-police. The superintendent of the Carolina hospital M.K. Mokabane, did not want to identify the injured man, but confirmed that he was injured during the rioting about the town's poisonous mine water. The riots have been raging in the area since Wednesday-night.
A family member of the injured man - who also did not want to give his name because he works for the local authority- said that 'his nephew' would lose a leg.
About 500 rioters attacked Pakistani-owned shops in the township, plundered stripped and torching the spaza-shops.
Tempelhoff described that the crowd - with the children in front - started marching towards the vehicles of the riot-police from about noon, and pelted them with a rain of stones. The police fired at the crowd, including the children, with rubber bullets and teargas. They also attempted to chase their vehicles at high speed towards the mob to try and scatter them.
The people shouted that 'NOBODY CAN EXPECT THEM TO DRINK POISONED MINE WATER'. Mr Power Mmbebeni, community leader said the township residents are sick and tired - and falling all physically - from having nothing else to drink except poisonous acid mine-water because the town's purification plant can't clean it.
They demand that SA president Jacob Zuma and Adv Thuli Madonsela, public prosecutor visit Carolina and its surroundings to investigate the dire situation they have to live in with their children.
Tempelhoff reported that a thick black pall of smoke hung over the township because people kept on torching tyres.
The residents demanded that local authoritity officials be fired 'because since January 11 2012, they struggle to clean the heavy metals from the Boesmanspruit Dam."
Until last week the local authority was carting water from Breyten to Carolina in water-tankers. However the town had run out of money: it had cost local ratepayers R1,3million for the past five months to cart water to the township. Residents said nobody from the local authorities are keeping them informed. "We are very frustrated about this,' they said.
Twenty-five people were arrested Wednesday for possession of stolen good and public violence, but three were released, said lt col Leonard Hlathi of the Mpumalanga police. The remainder are kept in custody for a whole week - until Friday, he said.
Tempelhoff reported that the township was 'calm last night'.