Ngozi Mine squatters resort to unsafe water sources

Efforts by a human rights group  to lobby Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to provide potable water have failed since they are illegal settlers.

SQUATTERS in Killarney landfill area popularly known as Ngozi Mine are reportedly fetching water for drinking and other domestic uses from open sources such as ponds amid fears of possible outbreaks of water-borne diseases.

Efforts by a human rights group  to lobby Bulawayo City Council (BCC) to provide potable water have failed since they are illegal settlers.

Council was forced to deliver water to the squatters between 2020 and 2021 at the height of COVID-19 for a fee in an effort to avert the spread of the pandemic.

Ngozi Mine is inhabited by displaced settlers who lack basic services like water and sewage reticulation systems although the landfill site houses up to 1 000 people with children under the age of 12 constituting approximately 40%.

Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights (MIHR) director Khumbulani Maphosa, who has been trying to assist the illegal settlers, yesterday said BCC declined to help them because of their status.

“The city council said they are illegal (settlers), they are not supposed to be settled there, therefore, council cannot help them,” Maphosa said.

Ward 2 councillor Adrian Moyo said he urged the slum dwellers to formalise their recycling business so that they are availed clean water.

Moyo told Southern Eye that the matter involves multiple stakeholders that should work together.

“This issue has many aspects to it. For instance, there is the aspect of their legitimacy as illegal settlers. Another one is that we should consider that these settlers are human beings who have rights too.

“The important thing is to deal with the issue by looking at the fact that they have the right to clean water, shelter, among other basic needs.

“The matter requires multiple- stakeholders to resolve it. We all need to work together so that the slum dwellers get access to fresh and clean water.”

He, however, said there was a need to consider the reasons for them to settle in the area.

Moyo said he told the squatters that since they are working with a human’s rights group, they should ask it to assist in registering their business.

He said the residents were currently surviving on food and water provided well-wishers.

“There is a soup kitchen which is run by Mustard Seed, a non-governmental group, which is giving them food to survive. Another thing that they did was to install water storage tanks for them. All that is needed is to make sure that they are always filled  with water,” Moyo said.

Last year in July, MIHR took the plight of waste pickers and slum dwellers to the global arena when it joined hundreds of water and sanitation practitioners from across the world at the All Systems Connect 2023 Symposium held in The Hague, Netherlands.

The event focused on water and sanitation through the systems approach.

MIHR was part of the social justice cluster and Maphosa was in the panel for four sessions, where he presented a paper on the work being done by Bulawayo waste pickers.

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