Vol 1: Issue 34
26 May 2023
CORRUPTION KILLS RESIDENTS IN HAMMANSKRAAL
Can you believe that Black people are still dying of cholera in 2023? 17 people have so far lost their lives to cholera in the current outbreak in Hammanskraal in the north of Tshwane. There were 165 patients at the Jubilee District Hospital by yesterday. Most unfortunately, that means the death toll may be expected to rise.
What was the response of the government in all the dying of the people from a curable and preventable disease? Said Motalatale Modiba, the Gauteng Health Department spokesperson: “The department continues to urge people to ensure proper hand hygiene, which includes thorough washing of hands with water and soap or alcohol-based sanitizer before handling food and after using the toilet”.
Who is fooling who here? It has been established that the people contracted the cholera from contaminated water that is coming from the taps. Yet the uncaring government is advising the people to thoroughly wash their hands with water. Which water? The same cholera-contaminated water? A careful reading of the government’s statement shifts the blame away from the government to the people. It seeks to suggest that the people died from cholera because they do not follow proper hygiene protocols. Really now? Do they suggest that the people eat with dirty hands? They may be using their hands to eat, but we know that in that part of the country there is always a dish with water and soap that goes around for every member of the family to properly wash their hands before handling the food. This cleanliness is an entrenched part of our culture. It is not a response to any disease outbreak.
Out of the blue, their “experts” now suspect the use of one hand wash bowl as a possible contributing factor of the cholera outbreak, yet it has been established that the tap water is the one contaminated. Lest we forget, the same government and their experts were the ones that came up with a Covid 19 strategy of digging 1.5 million graves in readiness for the deaths they thought were inevitable. Unfortunately for them, that corruption scheme of awarding a grave-digging tender was exposed just in time. Much to their disappointment, there were no 1.5 million people who died of Covid 19 in Gauteng.
Let us forget about the indirect accusation of the people for not washing their hands, and get to the source of the problem in the cholera-hit Hammanskraal. The source of the problem is corruption. 17 Black people have lost their lives due to corruption. At the time when there was a water quality problem in Hammanskraal last year, the tender to upgrade the Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant was awarded to a leader of the ANC by the name Edwin Sodi. This was done despite the fact that it was known that his company did not have the necessary capacity to effectively treat the water, and therefore prevent the loss of lives to cholera. The quality of life of Black people was not foremost in the minds of the ruling party. They were preoccupied with devising schemes to loot the State resources and benefit their own Comrades at the expense of the lives of the people.
Wait a minute. There is more. At the time when ANC’s Sodi was awarded the tender, he was fingered for corruption and making appearances at the Zondo Commission to answer to corruption accusations. That stain in the character of Sodi was not enough to persuade the tender-awarding committees to by-pass him and give the tender to clean companies that were unfortunately ignored. What worsens the picture is that Sodi is said to have been paid the full value of R292 million, while he managed to do only half of the work. Even that half was not up to scratch. Into the drain, went the taxpayers’ money. As is always the case, more taxpayers’ money had to be spent on a forensic investigation. The “deployees” in the Bid Evaluation Committee all gave Sodi’s company 80 points despite its lack of capacity. Anyway, Sodi’s contract had to be cancelled in August last year. At what cost?
As a result of government corruption, there will so far be 17 funerals in Hammanskraal. We know that most of those families will struggle to bury their loved ones due to poverty. It is not unlikely that most of those that were “killed” – yes, they were killed – were breadwinners in their poor families. Further, we know that some children have now been orphaned by the “killing” of their parents. Also, we know that it will now be more difficult for them to be supported in their schooling. Those poverty-driven dropouts may add to the number of the unemployed. The worst scenario is their possible recruitment into drug abuse and crime, which will worsen the poverty of their own families. That will cause a derailment in the allocation of the resources, as a lot more would have to go to fighting crime. The poor families would have to derail a portion of their meagre resources to the treatment and caring for their young drug addicts.
Like the electricity crisis that was identified as early as 2001 with nothing being done to deal with it, the toxic water in Hammanskraal was identified as early as 2008. Large quantities of sewage were flowing into the Apies River. And that river feeds into the Leeukraal Dam, which is source of water supply for Hammanskraal. It took the action of the residents in 2011 for government to declare the Rooiwal Plant and a section of the Apies River a disaster area. The point being made here is that the government knew all along that there was a problem in Hammanskraal. It was not deemed to be a problem because it largely affected Black people. The newly appointed Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramokgopa who continues to be shocked by electricity, was once choked by the Hammanskraal toxic water. While he was the Tshwane Executive Mayor, he made the usual promises in his 2013 State of the City Address when he committed that “the City will keep a close eye on the situation until an extension and refurbishment of Rooiwal WWTW worth R950 million is completed in 2015”. We now know that he meant that they would “keep a closed eye”, for nothing much has happened with the committed millions.
You should by now appreciate why we characterised the Hammanskraal cholera deaths as a “killing”. In fact, it is a premeditated murder of Black people in that part of the country. The only difference with the Marikana Massacre is that the “Hammanskraal killings” are a bit subtle because there are no 4000 rounds of ammunition and 4 mortuary vans ordered in preparation for the killings.