This, as the effects of the September mining dam flood disaster continue to weigh heavily on the local municipality of Kopanong in the Free State.
On Sunday, September 11, 2022, the dam wall collapsed, releasing tons of mud that killed two people, left one missing, injured dozens and displaced more than 200 people.
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The Free State Municipality, which is still dealing with the disastrous effects of the flood, says there appears to be a high concentration of sludge at the Kalkfontein Dam and as a result residents of Jagersfontein and Fauresmith would be affected.
However, the municipality’s new acting city manager, Zolile Lobe, says they want it to be on record that there is nothing wrong with the water quality.
Lobe says the pumping of water at their pumping station ceased after mud was identified in Kalkfontein on Saturday.
He says the municipality – before the mud was discovered at the dam – had already pumped enough water into its reservoir.
Lobe adds that service provider Bloem Water is constantly testing to verify the quality of water supplied to the community, and there is no reason to panic as the water quality is not compromised. .
“In line with an earlier communication the municipality issued regarding water colour, we want to make it clear that there are absolutely no issues with the quality of the water supplied to both Jagersfontein and Fauresmith, because it comes from the Kalkfontein Dam.
“The constant rainfall that has been recorded in our area, although really appreciated, could have played a role in the impact on the color of the water, but the municipality and Bloem Water are committed that the water quality is not compromised.
“The last tests carried out on the quality of water supplied to the region date back to November 10, 2022, and Bloem Water can confirm with certainty that the quality of the water is within acceptable standards. We take this opportunity to encourage the community to take care of their health and we encourage responsible use of water, as it is a scarce and precious resource.”
OFM News previously reported that Deputy Water and Sanitation Minister David Mahlobo, accompanied by Mayor Xolani Tseletsele and others, opened a criminal case over water pollution against the local mine in Beginning of the month.
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“We have a responsibility as a government to act when an owner of a facility like this has failed to take certain action. Today, based on that, we have completed our own assessment, we let’s now open a case based on the national water law,” Mahlobo said.
Earlier, Free State Office of Water and Sanitation spokesman Larry Crisp said a forensic report was underway to determine the extent of the pollution.
Following the disaster, the city had to deal with two more unnatural and unrelated deaths.
A child was killed by a mining truck on October 27, 2022. The incident came days after a 62-year-old man was found dead in a pool of water between Charlesville and Itumeleng, known as Skoti. He disappeared the previous Friday and was found on Saturday October 22, 2022.
OFM News previously reported that the search for a missing woman in Jagersfontein following the mining dam disaster has been called off.
Provincial Emergency Medical Services (EMS) spokesperson Sipho Towa told OFM News that search operations had been halted due to thick mud posing a high risk to rescuers, with the possibility of be trapped or injured.
Towa says it has become difficult to search the river due to the mud on the bottom of the river and poor visibility.
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“Teams will remain on alert to respond to any clues or changes in circumstances. Farmers and the community are urged to continue to monitor their areas and share information on finds with emergency services.
“The team initially carried out drone searches, thermal searches, bank searches up to 15 km downstream, mud searches and aerial searches,” adds Towa.
The body of the first victim was found the same evening of the incident while the body of the second victim was discovered more than 10 kilometers away on Friday September 30, 2022 by a passerby who then alerted the authorities.