Water restored after Athlone News enquiry

Marilyn Strauss and Natasha Cesroe demonstrate how they had to get water from an underground pipe after their copper pipes and a water meter were stolen.

Residents at a block of flats in Lonston Road, Hanover Park, who were left without water for nearly two weeks said it was only after intervention by the Athlone News that the City fixed their pipes.

On Monday February 28, the four households, with 40 people, woke up to find that copper pipes and a water meter had been stolen from a neighbour’s backyard. The water supply to all four households had been connected to it.

Natasha Cesroe said she had phoned and reported the matter to the City’s local housing office on Wednesday March 2. Residents made several follow-up calls and Ms Cesroe also approached ward councillor Antonio van der Rheede’s office for help.

Municipal staff had come out on Friday March 4 but had told the residents that they did not replace water meters, she said.

Ms Cesroe contacted the Athlone News on Wednesday March 9. By that time, the backyard was flooded. Water gushed from an underground pipe, and Ms Cesroe and another resident, Marilyn Strauss, showed how they used another pipe to connect to the underground pipe to get some water out for usage.

At the time, Ms Cesroe said: “We can’t live like this. We have old people who are on chronic medication. I am a chronic patient myself. SInce this incident, my blood pressure has been sky-high. Many of our children also got sick with diarrhoea because our toilets can’t flush, and the stench is unbearable. This water we ‘dig up’ is dirty. It is filled with sand and grass. We had no choice but to use the pipe to get the water. We then boiled it for consumption.”

Ms Strauss added that water was a basic necessity.

“The City failed us. Everybody is talking about the water bill, but nobody is coming out to fix it,” she said.

On Wednesday March 9, the Athlone News sent a list of questions to the City, and on Thursday March 10, an elated Ms Cesroe called the Athlone News to say thank you for the “intervention”.

“I am sure it was only after the Athlone News contacted them that they came out to fix it. We are so relieved. We tried for more than a week to have it fixed, and just a day after you made contact, a City team came out to fix the pipes and replace the stolen water meter.”

Malusi Booi, mayoral committee member for human settlements, said the City’s public housing department had been aware of the required repair before the Athlone News’s enquiry.

“The City investigates all complaints made by residents of its rental units and is trying its best to complete the required work in the shortest possible time frame. The department continues to work through severe repair work backlogs, primarily due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, and we are trying our best to work through it as soon as possible. We thank our residents for their patience while staff are carrying out the work.

“We encourage tenants to call the City’s call centre (0860 103 089) and to follow up for their required repairs and maintenance work. They are reminded to please get a reference number so that they can track the status and progress of their service requests.”

For nearly two weeks, after a water meter and copper pipes were stolen, water ran from an underground pipe in a backyard in Lonston Road, Hanover Park.
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