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'BCC might destroy damning diarrhoea outbreak evidence'

01 Jul 2020 at 07:27hrs | Views
BULAWAYO residents have expressed fear that the local authority (BCC) could destroy evidence that implicates it in the diarrhoea, typhoid and dysentery outbreaks in the city which recently claimed a dozen lives.

The allegations are contained in an urgent chamber application filed by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) demanding results of water quality tests conducted by council. The residents are also demanding access to council's sewage and water maintenance works schedules.

The application was filed on Friday last week through BPRA's lawyers.

"The evidence at issue is under the control and custody of the respondent. It is my earnest belief that the evidence might be destroyed if the applicants were to wait for litigation. Further, the timelines provided in that legislation would defeat the purpose of the applicants, which is to gather and preserve the evidence while it is available," BPRA co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said in his submissions.

The council is yet to lodge its objections.

"This application is brought on an urgent basis and without prior notice to the respondents for the reasons I discuss below. Firstly, the application is made without notice on the grounds of fear of adverse action by the respondent. I verily entertain a fear that the respondent will destroy or conceal the evidence that I have discussed above should they be given notice," Ndlovu said.

"I believe that some documentation from the respondents would remove the matter from the realm of speculation. Such documentation would include the works order and any other documentation from respondents' department of works for the repair of the burst water pipe and manhole."

At the onset of the diarrhoea outbreak last month, council blamed residents for storing water in dirty containers, a charge they deny.

Government has attributed the disease to a six-day water-shedding regime employed by council while tests done by private laboratories noted the presence of typhoid and dysentery bacteria in the water.

"The respondent has declared its tap water 'satisfactory' and announced that it found bacterial presence only in containers that some residents used to store water. This denial was made in the Press. The respondent did not reveal to the public the nature of the bacteria found in such water and did not particularise what standards used to pass the tap water satisfactory," Ndlovu added.

Source - newsday
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