Bloody water from an abattoir and raw sewage has contaminated drinking water in Welkom, Free State, AfriForum said.

The organisation’s provincial coordinator Johann Hattingh said the water, as stipulated by legislation, should flow to the Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW) for purification, but as the WWTW was out of order, the Matjhabeng local municipality broke open a sewage manhole to relay the water.

“What is of great concern is that the raw sewage and blood water are flowing into the pans from which Welkom’s drinking water is sourced,” Hattingh said on Friday.

“This water contamination can be stopped by the municipality, but they’re not lifting a finger. The sewage plant does not get maintained, and a sewage plant is the one thing that must work within a municipal area for the health of residents. It’s not negotiable, human rights are directly violated by the carelessness of the municipality,” said Hattingh.

AfriForum has demanded immediate action from the Department of Water and Sanitation and the municipality, failing which it would institute legal action against the authorities, Hattingh said.

Matjhabeng municipality’s spokesman Kgojane Matutle said he was alerted about the contaminated water on Thursday night.

“I found out about that last night, we are trying to ascertain what happened as I am speaking to you now. We will have details available as soon as possible,” he said.

The Free State was one of the five provinces recently declared drought disaster areas by the Department of Cooperative Governance.

The province has lacked rainfall and endured persistent high temperatures, which have destroyed livestock and crops in the largely farming province.