Category Archives: Gladys Mphepho

GroundUp: South Africa’s water wars

by Mandy de Waal

Ma Gladys Mphepho hovers over a pot on a two plate cooker in her shack in Papamani, an informal settlement outside of Grahamstown. “We do not have dignity,” she says, stirring the rice, flavoured with beef stock, that is her family’s Sunday lunch. “We do not know what it means to have dignity. Forget about any question of dignity,” says Mphepho.

It is a sweltering day in the heat of summer and Mphepho is talking about her daily struggle to live, which is exacerbated by the crisis that the people of Papamani, and greater Grahamstown, have with water. There are two taps in the whole of Papamani which serve close on 30 homes. Each home houses some five or six people. Do the maths, and that’s over 150 people who get water from two taps. That’s to drink, make food with, to wash with and to do anything else that requires water.

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