The seriousness of the drought in Mpumalanga is so severe that the inmates at the Barberton prison have started complaining to the prison management that they are not getting enough water to satisfy their needs.
Acting regional spokesperson for correctional services department Messiah Hlungwani said regular water supply at the prison facility had decreased immensely as a result of the drought that hit the country hard last year.
“Unfortunately, this has led to some offenders complaining as they are unable to use water any time of the day,” Hlungwani said on Tuesday.
Hlungwani said that the drought was so severe that Barberton might soon be without water. The levels of dams supplying the whole town with water had fallen from 61% to 6%.
A rationed supply of water from water tanks was used by prison management to carry out important tasks like washing and cooking.
Meanwhile, the possibility of using boreholes to provide water to the prison was being investigated. Public works department engineers were analysing their condition and the water quality. This could proffer a lasting solution to scarcity of water at the Barberton prison.
“We are expecting a clearance certificate and this will improve the current rationing of water supply,” Hlungwani said.
The town relied on the local municipality for its water supply.
However, the kind of water drive that was started on Facebook as a simple plea by Caroline VAN Saasen from Middelburg could be used to save the inmates of Barberton prison from dying of thirst. The water drive grew into a nationwide campaign organised by ordinary people on the social media through which thousands of residents of drought-hit Free state got water.