Residents forced to drink from graveyard

Tight water rationing introduced by the City Council has forced some residents in Mzilikazi high density suburb to draw drinking water from a borehole located in the midst of graves at West Park Cemetery.

Residents drawing drinking water from a borehole in West Park Cemetery.
Residents drawing drinking water from a borehole in West Park Cemetery.

The borehole was dug to provide water for construction of graves. “Since the council introduced water rationing two months ago, I have been fetching drinking water from this borehole. The water is fresh and tastes good,” said Crispen Bhebhe, a resident of Mzilikazi.

Another resident from the nearby Jairos Jiri Training centre said she used the water from the borehole only for washing and flushing the toilet, as she was not sure it was safe.

A grave digger at the cemetery, Mbonisi Moyo, said the water was clean and safe.

“It is like water from all other boreholes – the water level is much deeper than the graves,” he said. But a health expert, Allan Black, said water sources can be contaminated by seepage of liquids from corpses that occurs during the decay of bodies in the ground. “In instances where cemeteries are located on porous soils, the chances are high that human corpse seepage can mix easily with underground water. This seepage contains bacteria and viruses which can cause diseases such as cholera and typhoid,” he said.

Bulawayo is reeling under serious water crisis following the decommissioning of two of its major water supply dams in July this year. The council recently increased water rationing from 48 hours to 72 hours a week.

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