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Raw sewage flowing into Fish River
The raw sewage flowing into the Fish River from a damaged sewer station in Cradock. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Farmers in the Great Fish River Valley are very concerned about stock losses, possibly due to Cryptosporidiosis caused by an intestinal parasite in their drinking water.

According to Retief Odendaal, MPL – East Cape Midlands and DA constituency leader, this problem is caused by the unabated flow of raw sewage into the Great Fish River. 

"This problem is playing havoc with the livelihoods of farmers as this might now be the cause of a parasitic infection leading to widespread livestock losses," he said.

Retief Odendaal

Odendaal added that 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 CHDM and the minister of water and sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu, requesting intervention regarding the municipality’s mismanagement of its water and sanitation competency," Odendaal said.  He added that although there have been interventions by DWA in the past, his recent pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

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

"Over the past weeks I have received regular reports of farmers who have lost livestock due to Cryptosporidiosis. 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 this disease," Odendaal explained.

He also confirmed that he has written to the CHDM municipal manager, 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 endeavor to obtain test results proving the presence of E.coli and other faecal coliforms in the water. If Mashiyi does not act immediately and test results prove that significant amounts of faecal coliforms are present, I reserve the right to pursue the matter criminally," he added.

Odendaal has also written to Minister Sisulu requesting her urgent intervention in the matter.

Komani-Karoo Express tried numerous times to get comment from Tobeka Mqamelo, CHDM's spokesperson, but she has not replied.

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