Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister David Mahlobo has issued a stern warning against illegal water use, while also reiterating government’s commitment to enhancing the provision of water to affected communities in different parts of the country.
Speaking during the National Assembly question and answer session on December 1, he said the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) was mandated by the Constitution to provide water for all citizens and was working tirelessly to ensure it upholds its constitutional mandate.
“The Constitution implores us that water is a right and it is a right to life. Therefore, it is uncalled for to waste or block access to water. South Africa is a water-scarce country and every drop of water should be shared equitably,” he said.
He also called on water-use associations, irrigation boards and water services authorities to report unauthorised water use, including the building of illegal dams.
“The illegal building of dams is concerning because, in most cases, we do not even know the material used to build those dams. It goes without saying that this has a detrimental effect on other water users and the ecosystem. The areas of concern are in the Western Cape (particularly in Breede Gouritz), Limpopo and Mpumalanga,” Mahlobo noted.
He added that the department through its compliance, monitoring and evaluation unit, was making significant progress to ensure transgressors are held accountable through regular dam safety inspections and proactive investigations where illegal dam owners are directed to demolish all illegal dams.
“We even report cases of illegal dams to authorities as mandated by the law. There are about 174 cases reported to law enforcement agencies and some are at various stages of internal engineering assessments by DWS engineers for successful prosecution,” he added.
Mahlobo further urged members of the public to report illegal water use and infrastructure vandalism to local authorities as the department “continues with its effective implementation of bulk water projects across the country”.