Villagers in Mmangweni in the Eastern Cape were rejoicing on Thursday after a court agreement will see them – at least for now – alleviate their water woes.
The villagers‚ in collaboration with the Legal Resources Centre (LRC)‚ took the OR Tambo District municipality and other government players to court to demand that they urgently deliver clean water to their community. (https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-06-14-clean-water-is-constitutional-right-rural-village-takes-municipality-to-court/)
On Thursday in the Mthatha High Court‚ the municipality entered into an court-ordered agreement that would see this happen. According to the LRC‚ the agreement would see the municipality deliver ten 5 000-litre water tanks within 15 days‚ and to refill each tank on a weekly basis.
“The court order‚ granted by Matebese AJ‚ also requires that the tanks be within 200 meters of households in the village‚” the LRC said in a statement.
The residents have complained that they had to walk long distances to get water from a local water source known as “idami”. The water there was also claimed to be unhealthy‚ with residents complaining that it caused stomach illnesses and gave them rashes.
Times Select (https://select.timeslive.co.za/news/2018-06-21-high-and-dry-e-cape-village-wants-water-woes-declared-unconstitutional/) reported last week that children often fell asleep in class because they spent hours‚ often late at night or early in the morning‚ fetching water for their households. A teacher in the community made these allegations in an affidavit contained in the court papers.
The papers were filed in early June. “Soon after the court papers were filed‚ the parties entered into negotiations and by June 14‚ the municipality had already delivered four tanks‚ three of which have been filled with water. This has brought relief to the community‚” the LRC said.
However‚ the LRC said the court battle was not over.
“The High Court application is divided into two parts. Part A has focused on the urgent delivery of water and has now been settled by the court-ordered agreement. Part B focuses on the municipality’s systemic failure to provide water to the community and seeks a sustainable solution for the provision of water.
“Part B remains contested‚ though a court date has not been set‚” the organisation said.