Premier 'not whisked away' from typhoid protest

Mpumalanga Premier Thabang Makwetla’s office on Friday morning vehemently denied reports that he had to be rescued from a stone-throwing crowd in Delmas the previous afternoon.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reported that residents pelted vehicles with stones during Makwetla’s visit to a Bothleng stadium.

The police had to use rubber bullets and tear gas, and the premier had to be whisked away, the SABC said.

“It is completely untrue that the premier was whisked away under heavy police protection,” his spokesperson, Ntime Skhosana, said.

“There was no firing of shots, rubber bullets or stone throwing. The meeting ended without any act of violence or intimidation. Reports that there were violence aimed at the premier is a complete fabrication,” Skhosana insisted.

Makwetla was in Bothleng for a meeting with residents on the typhoid outbreak and was seeking to reassure them that the water in the area was safe to drink.

He said Makwetla had met local councillors and water affairs and health officials earlier on Thursday.

The meeting with residents was mainly to deal with typhoid, service delivery and the contamination of water.

“The premier gave an account on the interventions by the government and feedback on a feasibility study to get water from the Rand Water Board.

“He told the people how far the council had come.
In 1993, the area did not have a reservoir.”

The feasibility study said it would cost R70-million to install a pipe from the Rand Water Board to Bothleng.

“This is one of the options,” Skhosana said. “We will have to move with speed.”

It is now up to the council committee overseeing the outbreak to take steps, he said.

Since the current outbreak was confirmed on August 22, five people have died of the faecal oral disease.

More than 3 000 people have been treated for symptoms of the disease.

Traces of Salmonella typhi, the bacteria that causes typhoid, were found in a borehole that supplied water to Bothleng.

A ban on tap water has since been lifted, and the water declared safe.

Last Friday, Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said she was satisfied with the government’s response to the outbreak.

In other cases of typhoid outbreaks, fatality rates were much higher, the minister said.

Delmas also experienced a typhoid outbreak in 1993.—Sapa

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