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Bulawayo residents plot council suit over diarrhoea deaths

Bulawayo Mayor Solomon Mguni

BULAWAYO residents are contemplating suing their city council for allegedly causing the death of 12 people and related illnesses to more than 1 500 Luveve residents through pumping out contaminated water to households.

Tests done at private laboratories to ascertain the causes of the deaths and illness have been linked to symptoms consistent with typhoid and dysentery.

The residents, through the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) and one of the victims, Chrispen Ngulube have filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking to compel the local authority to release vital information relating to the outbreak.

The residents argue that the information is vital as they intend to mount a class civil suit against the local authority.

“Most residents reported falling ill after drinking tap water provided by the respondent,” reads part of the application seen by NewZimbabwe.com.

“Without exception, all affected residents collected and most used the water after one of the regulated five days of water cuts imposed on most of the city by the respondent.

“Most people began falling sick two days after the return, as it were, of the water.

“They reported that the water, when pumped from the tap, was discoloured, with particles of solid matter, greyish brownish, dark green in colour.

“Residents also reported that the water was odoriferous with a suggestion of raw sewer in the ardour.”

The residents also want to be granted access to the plumbing maintenance sites in the suburb.

The city’s Chamber Secretary Sikhangele Zhou recently told a water crisis meeting that following the diarrhoea outbreak, the local authority has hired a contractor to work on sewer blockages in the suburb.

“Further, the Applicant requests urgent access to the routine plumbing maintenance schedule for any part of Luveve for the past six months.

“It is our belief that the respondent carries out, or should, routine maintenance and inspection of its water infrastructure.

“The application is made without notice on the grounds of fear of adverse action by the respondent.

“I verily entertain a fear that the respondent will destroy or conceal the evidence. The fear arises out of the combative and denialist attitude that has been exhibited by the respondent thus far. The respondent may conceal or do away with evidence to perpetuate its denial,” the residents submitted in the application.

The residents are also demanding an independent expert appointed to collect samples of the water and pipe system to determine the cause of the outbreak.

They accuse the local authority of attempting to cover their tracks by embarking on a rushed exercise to lay new polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) water pipes in the suburb.

The Bulawayo City Council is yet to file its opposing papers.

The 144-hour weekly water shedding programme implemented by council as part of measures to conserve the city’s dwindling water supplies has been largely blamed for the outbreak. newzimbabwe

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