By Marcus Monyakeni
The Department of Water and Sanitation celebrated the iconic Statesman, former President Nelson Mandela’s birthday across the country on 18 July under the theme “Clear River Campaign”.
This is an initiative which focuses on river health, wetlands protection and against pollution on water resources. It was supported by Bloemwater, Coca-Cola, South African National Defence Force (SANDF), DESTEEA, Mangaung Metro and Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS).
The initiative for Mandela Month involved community members living near rivers and wetlands with the aim of informing, educating and physically acting on clearing the river foreign objects that contribute in excessive pollution of water and river flow blockages.
The community of Khayelisha in Mangaung Metro Municipality in the Free State teamed up with officials from DWS and private sector stakeholders to clean up Renoster River which runs through the community.
Dr Tshiliso Ntili, Regional Head of Water and Sanitation in the Free State, said it is pleasing for DWS, as the leading department, to engage the community and private sectors at ground level about the importance of keeping the rivers clean.
“Rivers give us water to use both domestically and for agricultural purposes, and it is therefore important to keep them healthy. It is also pleasant to note that our communities are taking water issues seriously.
"As the Department of Water and Sanitation, we are pleased that our message of keeping our water resources clean reaches the communities, who make it their sole responsibility to ensure that their local rivers are healthy,” he said.
Paul Motsapi, a community member who joined the forces, said they are really happy as community of Khayelisha to contribute positively towards safe keeping of the river.
“Pollution is caused by our own community staying next to Renoster River. It is sad to see how the river gets polluted by things that are not meant to be either in or around the river. The worst thing that I personally picked up was a dead dog.“
Colonel Owen, Witbooi, Acting General Officer Commander Army Support Base in Bloemfontein, said the South African National Defence Force also took part in the campaign to intensify mobilisation of community members to take care of their environment.
“Following this Clear Rivers campaign, we expect the community to take ownership of their environment and to take responsibility of keeping water resources clean.”
The call was also reiterated by Dr Limakatso Moorosi, Chief Executive of Bloemwater. She discouraged members of the community from polluting the rivers.
“Pollution of water resource is a serious concern to fresh water sustenance. Bloemwater has brought a soon to be rolled out three-year programme into Clear River campaign. The program will entail bio monitoring of the rivers, deforestation and removal of alien invasive plants and planting of indigenous trees. It will be carried out by the NGO’s volunteers with monthly’s stipends,” said Dr Moorosi.