Operation Siyavutha started strongMay 29, 2023
President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africans that government’s immediate priority is to
end the cholera outbreak and ensure safe water for all.
In his weekly newsletter to the nation, the President said the recent outbreaks of cholera in
Hammanskraal, Gauteng, and in the Free State have shown the importance of safe and effective
water and wastewater management.
The cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal and the Free State has claimed 24 lives, while hundreds
more have been hospitalised. The President sent his condolences to those who lost their loved ones.
“Disease outbreaks such as the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal are made far worse in situations
of poor governance, weak management, and poor maintenance of infrastructure. We have a
responsibility and are determined to remedy those shortcomings in a sustainable way and as a
matter of urgency,” he said.
President Ramaphosa commended authorities for their efforts to speedily assist all those affected,
including setting up a field hospital in Kanana in Hammanskraal, providing additional water tanking
services to residents and going into communities to raise awareness about proper hygiene.
“An investigation is underway into the source of the outbreak. Technical teams from the City of
Tshwane, the Department of Water and Sanitation, and the national and provincial Departments of
Health are carrying out water quality tests at distribution points and at water treatment works in the
area. They are also tracking and tracing infections.” he said.
The President acknowledged that unreliable and poor-quality drinking water has been a problem in
Hammanskraal for many years.
He said the Rooiwal wastewater treatment works, which is upstream of Hammanskraal, has not
been well maintained and has insufficient capacity to deal with the volume of wastewater entering
The President highlighted that over the years, the Department of Water and Sanitation has issued
many directives to the City of Tshwane to address pollution from Rooiwal. Regrettably, he said,
these directives were not actioned.
Consequently, the department initiated legal action to force the City to use its grant from national
government to refurbish and upgrade the wastewater treatment works.
“While there must be full accountability for the failings that have resulted in the outbreak in
Hammanskraal, at this time, we must focus on the problem at hand. We must stop the spread of
cholera and take remedial measures to safeguard human health.
“Generally, water quality in South Africa is of a high standard, which, according to our Water
Research Commission, ‘compares well with the best in the world’. It is important to note that the
dual water systems supplied by Magalies and Rand Water to the Tshwane area meet national
standards,” he said.
As we wait for the results of the investigation into the cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, President
Ramaphosa said it is critical that local government authorities continue to work closely with national
government to address and overcome the immediate challenges with water quality in
Hammanskraal. The President has asked the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, to make
recommendations to strengthen the governance, management and regulatory framework for
municipal water and sanitation services.
This includes ensuring that national minimum norms and standards are comprehensive, adequately
monitored and adhered to by all water service providers.