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Municipality agrees to provide more consistent water supply to villages in Limpopo

- Lee-Anne Bruce

Today, residents of five Limpopo villages, represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, negotiated a settlement with the Sekhukhune District Municipality. The villages of Elandskraal, Morarela, Mbuzini, Dichoeng and Tsansabela have not had access to water since 2009 when the Municipality cut off the existing water supply. This forced the residents to walk long distances to collect water from crocodile-infested rivers and put their safety and health at risk.

The communities approached the North Gauteng High Court in 2015 asking for water to be supplied to the villages urgently. 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. The communities returned to court today to ensure that more long term solutions are effected.

The presiding judge asked that the parties try to negotiate to find a workable resolution. The communities have explained that the water the Municipality delivers by trucks as part of the interim measure is not always fit for drinking, and the water that does sometimes come from taps is raw, unpurified water. They have also insisted that the Municipality increase the number of water tanks per village and the number of times they provide water through the taps. The Municipality has agreed to this as a medium-term solution while it plans to build a water plant in the long-term. This agreement has been made an order of court.

The Court will be monitoring the compliance with the settlement and the Municipality will have to make monthly reports on its progress until the water plant is complete. Judge Fabricius will be managing the case to ensure that the Municipality complies with its obligations in this longstanding issue.

“We believe that this settlement will bring some relief to the communities living without an adequate water supply,” says Zeenat Sujee, attorney at CALS. “This is a progressive step along the way to realising the communities’ constitutional right to access water.”

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