By: Hertha Ekandjo
The Lwanyanda informal settlement in the Zambezi region’s residents are accusing the Zambezi region health director Agnes Mwilima and sheriff Vernon Mutimani of allegedly sending a number of health officials to contaminate their wells on Wednesday for them to vacate the area.
Last week, the Katima Mulilo town council demolished over 500 houses in Lwanyanda, leaving about 160 people living on the side of the road while others have scattered or returned to the villages.
According to an “eyewitness”, Josefine Sioka, on Wednesday morning, around 10 o’clock, while she and other residents were seated under a tree, they allegedly saw a government vehicle written ‘Malaria Control’ driving by and parking in the bush.
She added that they saw health officials walking from the vehicle heading toward their water wells a few minutes later. The officers allegedly started spraying an ‘unknown’ substance into the wells.
“When I asked them what they were doing, they told me that they were sent by the sheriff Vernon and the health director to come and spray chemicals in the wells since there was no longer any person living there,” she said.
According to Sioka, she was terrified by this, knowing that the whole community drank from those wells.
She added that most of their schooling children drink from the wells after school on their way home.
“I then told the officials that what they were doing was wrong since some of their kids could also pass by the wells after school and drink from the contaminated water. But they ignored me,” Sioka explained.
Moreover, she stressed that they had nowhere else to get drinking water from as they were scared to drink from the wells. “We don’t want to die”.
Another resident Simasiku Moses, says the health officers told the residents that they were spraying chemicals into the wells because the settlement no longer had occupants.
“But that’s where we drink,” he said.
He emphasised that one of the contaminated wells was close to a school in the area, where learners drank after school.
The health director, Mwilima, told The Villager she was unaware of such an incident.
“Perhaps they are still coming to report it,” she said.
Meanwhile, Katima Mulilo’s state hospital matron Mulopo says the allegations were false.
She noted that before anyone digs a well, a health inspector always inspects the safety before he approves the well.
“But if it’s in villages where you just dig and start drinking, that is another issue,” she said.
“There’s no one living at Lwanyanda anymore. So, if they are crossing the road to fetch water there, they were supposed to have their own water where they stay,” said Mulopo.
Sheriff Vernon Mutimani says that they only filled up holes in the area to avoid people from falling into them.
“The council requested us to cover them since the place is empty. Someone might be wandering around and might fall and hurt themselves. So we just covered them up with sand,” said Mutimani.