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Community members take Municipality to court over lack of access to water

- Lee-Anne Bruce

The Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) represents the residents of five villages in Limpopo which have not had access to water in eight years. In 2009, the Sekhukhune District Municipality stopped the water supply to the villages of Elandskraal, Morarela, Mbuzini, Dichoeng and Tsansabela. This forced the communities living in the area, mainly children and elderly men and women, to walk long distances to collect water from crocodile-infested rivers and springs shared with other animals.

The communities, assisted by CALS, approached the North Gauteng High Court in 2015 asking the Municipality to supply the villages with water. They argued that the lack of water particularly affects women whose safety is at risk when collecting water and who are most impacted by a lack of sanitation. The Municipality agreed to truck potable water to the villages twice a week as an interim measure until a more permanent solution could be implemented.

On 17 August 2017, the communities will return to court to challenge the constitutionality of the Municipality’s Free Basic Water policy and to ensure that medium to long-term solutions are secured. CALS will argue that the policy deprives the communities of water in a manner that is unlawful and unconstitutional. We will also argue that the Municipality's failure to consistently provide potable water is in direct violation of the communities' constitutional rights to access to water.

The matter will be heard at the Pretoria High Court on 17 August 2017 from 10:00

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