Municipality ‘endangers kids’ as sewage spills into crèche

The Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality in Limpopo is accused of refusing to issue a letter approving a provincial government-funded project to fix a sewer that is spilling into a daycare centre.

According to community members, the spillage problem started about 12 years ago and was reported to the local authorities. In 2021, Mopani District Municipality appointed a service provider who allegedly failed to complete the project.

Then, in May, the local traditional council and the community requested a local engineer, Joseph Mashele, to attend to the spillage problem.

Mashele agreed but the municipality is allegedly refusing to give him permission to fix the problem after learning that the Limpopo department of cooperative governance, human settlements, and traditional affairs  (CoGHSTA) intended to fund him.

“The problem is beyond the blockage, but the initial assessment we conducted showed  there could either be design or construction-related faults,” said Mashele.

“The department is supportive, but we can’t work without the support of the municipality.”

Mashele claims he was reliably informed that the municipality was frustrating him because they planned to replace him with another company.

“We need the municipality to approve our appointment. We submitted our technical assessment report on which they are basing their discussion of this project. They are not questioning our credentials, but they want us replaced.”

A community member, whose granddaughter goes to the affected daycare centre, said she was not interested in politics but in a solution. “The sewage spills right at the gate where our grandchildren play. The toddlers are sometimes seen crawling on the contaminated ground,” she said.

She said the community had repeatedly reported the matter to the Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality.“They kept abdicating their responsibility. We even contacted the Human Rights Commission’ and the Public Protector’s Office, but we did not get assistance,” she said.

In an audio recording heard by this publication, Cassius Machimana, a representative from the Greater Tzaneen mayor’s office, was heard telling community members that the municipality would not be pushed to allow Mashele to fix the problem.

“We cannot be held accountable for a project that we did not implement. Mashele and his team will never get the approval letter from the municipality,” Machimana said.

When contacted, the Greater Tzaneen Municipality spokesperson Neville Ndlala referred us to the district to respond.

Mopani District Municipality spokesperson Odas Ngobeni said the municipality’s efforts to find funding of more than R16-million for the project have been unsuccessful. “There is commitment from the CoGHSTA  MEC to find funding for the project,” said Ngobeni.

CoGHSTA spokesperson Hitekani Magwedze had not yet responded to questions about the sewer at the time of publication.

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