Communities should stop destroying public property during protests, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Tuesday.
Problems supplying communities with safe water worsened when residents went on the rampage and destroyed water tankers, she told reporters in Pretoria after a High Court ruling on the supply of water to Carolina, in Mpumalanga.
"They should never find themselves damaging and vandalising their own property at any given time," she said.
The High Court ordered the Gert Sibanda district municipality to provide Carolina residents with drinkable water within 72 hours.
The municipality had to provide a minimum of 25 litres of drinkable water per person per day.
The municipality's mayor and manager were also ordered to talk to the Federation for a Sustainable Environment and Sibolela Concerned Community, which brought the court application, about restoring the town's water supply.
The court ordered the municipality to give it a progress report in a month.
Molewa said that since the discovery of the water contamination in Carolina in January, her department had spent more than R5 million on various initiatives, including supplying water to the community.
"The only interruption that occurred was for five days, which was during the community unrest that led to the burning of some of the tanks and a tanker truck," she said.
The police said in May that three police vehicles and six water tankers were damaged in clashes with residents during a service delivery protest.
A municipal office and a library were set alight and four foreigners' shops were looted.
Molewa said the problem in Caroline was two-fold: it was partly attributable to pollution arising from mining activity in the Mpumalanga area; and partly because the water was not being purified to drinking standards.
She said the results of water samples received on Tuesday morning confirmed that the water there now complied with South African standards.
"Based on these results I would like to pronounce that the drinking water of Carolina be declared safe for human consumption by my responsible technical unit."
Molewa said tests by three laboratories had proved that the pH levels, and the levels of aluminium, iron, manganese, and sulphates in the water in Carolina were within the set health limits.