Sinkhole site a growing worry

Some fearless residents take a short cut across the dangerous sinkhole.
Some fearless residents take a short cut across the dangerous sinkhole.

The site where a huge sinkhole forced residents to evacuate their homes earlier this year continues to be a growing
safety hazard.
The gaping hole, situated alongside house No. 590 in Khutsong’s Xhosa Section, started as a leak on the sidewalk
in June last year. By January, it had swallowed up the road and threatened several houses in the vicinity. After the municipality and disaster management services evacuated the residents, Merafong incorporated the site into its disaster management strategy.
Through this strategy, several projects were planned and undertaken with contributions from the national disaster
fund.
A group of residents put a stop to the work at the site, however, demanding that the municipality compensates
the homeowners as the damage was caused by a water leak that was not attended to in time.
Fast forward to Sunday evening and the residents in the area suddenly found themselves stuck without any
water after a water pipe dangling over the ever-growing sinkhole broke. Until it was repaired at around 11:00 on
Monday, dozens of residents climbed down into the sinkhole with buckets to collect some of the leaking water for
their domestic use.
Although the sinkhole site was previously cordoned off and a security guard posted there to prevent the surrounding
houses from being vandalised, this is no longer the case. Those who are brave enough to do so, now clamber across the sinkhole rather than take another street.
‘Since the security guard left about two months ago, people come and go as they please. The sinkhole is getting
bigger every day, especially since it has started to rain. Every morning, people gather here to see what has changed
during the night, said Mr Mbuse Maphete, a young resident in the vicinity.
‘We used to chase people away if they wanted to come and loot but it has become too dangerous and we just go
there to check up in the mornings. We are losing hope that this hole will ever be fixed. It is just a matter of time
before other houses are also affected,’ he told the Herald.
Maphete also pointed out a large rock that has come loose from the side of the sinkhole and is currently pinning
the main electrical cable down. If this cable is damaged when the rock falls down, it is likely that the many residents
will end up without electricity.
In the meantime, the residents have discovered another leaking pipe in the deepest part of the sinkhole. If this is
not attended to, it could also lead to further problems.
The Herald asked the Merafong City Local Municipality about the issue on Tuesday.
‘The site was barricaded and this may have been opened by community members but the matter of resecuring
the site will be looked into. The site will be repaired upon approval of the second leg of the disaster management allocation, which the municipality has no control over.
‘The pipe will be sealed off and the electrical cable secured,’ the spokesperson reassured.

The power line that is precariously trapped under a loose rock in the sinkhole..

The power line that is precariously trapped under a loose rock in the sinkhole.

 

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