Press Release: Landmark Victory for Basic Services in Municipilaties
Published by Legal Resources Centre 30 July 2019
For Immediate Release: 30 July 2019
On 29 July 2019, the Legal Resources Centre obtained judgment in the Pietermaritzburg High Court (Court) against the uMsunduzi, uMshwathi and uMgungundlovu municipalities which declared that the municipalities’ “ongoing and persistent failure to provide the farm occupiers and labour tenants who are residing within areas of their jurisdiction with access to basic sanitation, sufficient water and collection of refuse is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, particularly Sections 9, 10, 24, 27(1)(b), 33, 152, 153, 195 and 237”.
The applicants in this case were four farm dwellers and the Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA) who were represented by the Legal Resources Centre (LRC). The application was instituted on behalf of the class of farm dwellers residing within the jurisdiction of municipalities that do not provide access to basic services.
According to LRC’s Thabiso Mbhense the judgment whilst against these three municipalities is destined to have wide impact on all municipalities defaulting on the provision of basic services in South Africa.
The court directed the municipalities, “to comply with Regulation 3 of the Regulations Relating to Compulsory National Standards and Measures to Conserve Water (GN R509 in GG 22355 of 8 June 2001) by:
(a) Installing a sufficient number of water user connections to supply a minimum quantity of portable water of 25 litres per person per day or 6 kilolitres per household per month to farm occupiers and labour tenants residing within areas of their jurisdiction;
(b) Ensuring that the water user connections supply water at a minimum flow rate of not less than 10 litres per minute; and
(c) Ensuring that the water user connections supplied are within 200 meters of the farm dwellers’ households.”
The court also directed the municipalities “to provide farm occupiers and/or labour tenants within areas of their jurisdiction with access to basic sanitation by installing Ventilation Improved Pit (“the VIP”) toilets per each household. (The VIP toilets should conform to SANS 10365-1: 2003 specifications)” and “to provide the farm occupiers and/or labour tenants within their area of jurisdiction refuse collection services.”
The Court ordered the municipalities to file a report and action plan within six (6) months with the Pietermaritzburg High Court identifying all farm occupiers and labour tenants who are residing within the areas of their jurisdictions. This report must record whether the farm dweller or labour tenant “has access to water, sanitation and collection of refuse. If he/she has access to water, sanitation and collection of refuse:
Indicate the type of water source, type of sanitation and collection of refuse,
Indicate the quality and the quantity of water, sanitation and collection of refuse,
Indicate the distance from the water source, sanitation and collection of refuse, to each farm occupier and labour tenant’s house.” If the farm dweller or labour tenant “does not have access to water, indicate how long he/she has not had access to water, sanitation and collection of refuse.”
In their plans the municipalities are required to record the intended process to provide farm occupiers and labour tenants with access to water, sanitation and the collection of refuse as well as how they intend ensuring that all farm occupiers, labour tenants and farm owners within their jurisdiction are aware of this judgment. The court ordered that the municipalities’ plan must set measurable, periodic deadlines for progress and must be served to the applicants and allow the applicants to respond to the reports and plans.
This case impacts on farm dwellers and labour tenants in remote parts of our country who live in difficult conditions. The applicants are members of communities with limited and at times, no access to the basic services necessary for human survival, self-actualisation, or dignity.