NewsLive fish in tap water: South Africa's sewage crisis hits home

Live fish in tap water: South Africa's sewage crisis hits home

They turned on the tap, a fish came out. Absurd in South Africa (illustrative photo)
They turned on the tap, a fish came out. Absurd in South Africa (illustrative photo)
Images source: © Adobe Stock
12:01 PM EDT, May 12, 2024

In Komatipoort, South Africa, a resident experienced something unusual: a live fish came out of her kitchen faucet. This incident, far from amusing, highlights a severe "sewage crisis" plaguing the area, known for attracting tourists to the nearby Kruger National Park. Despite numerous complaints to local authorities, the issue remains unresolved.

Lene Roux, the Komatipoort Concerned Residents Association chairperson, discovered the fish. "Although tiny, it was unmistakably alive and well," she explained, confirming the bizarre occurrence in her home.

For the people of Komatipoort, this is no laughing matter. The community has been battling sewage problems for years, affecting their drinking water. The town's economy heavily depends on tourism, making the situation even more dire.

"The stench from the sewage spills was at times so bad that guests staying at Roux’s guest house in Komatipoort refused to eat in the dining room," Roux has been vocal about the issue in the South African media.

The sewage crisis has had severe repercussions: buildings have been evacuated, access to stores has been obstructed by wastewater, and local gardens and the Crocodile River have been polluted. The river has become nothing more than a sewage dump, leading to a mass exodus of the wildlife it was once home to, as noted by disillusioned visitors.

Turning to the Supreme Court for resolution

Having gotten no response from the Nkomazi municipality, the residents' association appealed to the Supreme Court for intervention.

The case attracted nationwide attention, with the fish incident as a pivotal piece of evidence demonstrating the urgent need for the authorities to address the water supply and sewage issues. The court was convinced, and on April 21st, it ordered the municipality, the municipal manager, and the mayor to rectify the sewage leakage promptly.

They were given a 21-day deadline to report on their actions. However, as that deadline approaches this Sunday, the situation remains unchanged, leaving the community in despair. They are now considering returning to court to seek authorization to manage the sewage and clean water infrastructure.

Related content