Amnesty International South Africa executive director Shenilla Mohamed on Tuesday called on government to urgently prevent further cholera deaths following the recent outbreak in Hammanskraal, in Tshwane.
At least 15 people have died of cholera in Gauteng as government scrambles to identify the exact source of the outbreak.
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu announced on Monday his technical team would further extend intensive assessments of various water supply systems.
Mohamed expressed concern that people were dying of a preventable and easily treatable disease.
“This is deeply troubling and unacceptable. Cholera is caused by the intake of contaminated food or water – food and water that should be safe to eat and drink, not contaminated with potentially deadly bacteria,” she said.
She stressed that the provision of safe water and sanitation was critical in preventing and controlling the transmission of cholera.
She further called on the Department of Water and Sanitation to work with municipalities to act in the short- and long-term, and invest in and manage South Africa’s basic water and sanitation infrastructure.
“The current outbreak must be brought under control immediately, and the spread of possible future outbreaks must be prevented. The right to access safe, sufficient and reliable water is enshrined in the Constitution, and will continue to be threatened – and lives risked – unless the government prioritises investment in infrastructure, and tackles corruption and the mismanagement of public funds,” she added.
Mohamed also called for the City of Tshwane to share necessary information with its residents regarding the source of the outbreak.