Fear of livestock losses due to contaminated Fish River

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL – EC Midlands Constituency Leader
29 Jun 2021 in Press Statements

Note to Editors: Please find attached a soundbite in English by Retief Odendaal, MPL.

The unabated criminal flow of raw sewage into the Great Fish River is playing havoc with the livelihoods of farmers, as this might now be the cause of a parasitic infection leading to widespread livestock losses.

The blame for this catastrophe must be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM), for its inability to manage its sewage infrastructure, and the Department of Water Affairs (DWA), for failing to intervene.

Over the past years, I have on numerous occasions written to the Municipal Manager of the CHDM and the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, requesting interventions regarding the municipality’s mismanagement of its water and sanitation competency. Although there have been interventions in the past by the DWA, unfortunately, my recent pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

In the Cradock area, two sewage pump stations, namely Michausdal and Lingelihle, have been dysfunctional since Friday, 18 June 2021. As a result, massive amounts of untreated sewage and wastewater have flowed directly into the Great Fish River.

Over the past weeks, I have received regular reports of farmers who have lost livestock due to Cryptosporidiosis – a disease caused by an intestinal parasite. The disease is waterborne and normally originates where the drinking water or feed of livestock has been contaminated by untreated sewage.

These farmers all use water from the Fish River either as drinking water for livestock or for irrigation purposes.

It is, therefore, very possible that the increased instances of sewage spills into the Fish River have led to mass contamination and is the sole cause of this recent spate of livestock losses due to Cryptosporidiosis.

I have written to the CHDM Municipal Manager, Mr Gcobani Mashiyi, to inform him that it is a criminal offence to knowingly pollute this important water resource and doing nothing about it.

I will now endeavour to obtain test results proving the presence of E.coli and other faecal coliforms in the water. If Mr Mashiyi does not act immediately and test results prove that significant amounts of faecal coliforms are present, I reserve my right to pursue the matter criminally.

I have also written to Minister Sisulu and requested her urgent intervention in the matter. (letters attached)

The Eastern Cape is in the grip of a debilitating drought, and the DA will not stand by and watch how the little water we have available causes even more economic hardship and destruction to our people.