South African Municipalities’ Water and Sanitation Crisis: A Gross Violation of Constitutional Rights

1 min read
south africa water crisis

The water and sanitation crisis affecting several towns in South Africa has led to broken pipes and maintenance holes, causing severe sewage issues that impact the lives and health of thousands of residents. This crisis is evident in towns like Sannieshof, Ottosdal, and Delareyville, where raw sewage has flooded parts of the local cemetery and forced some households to avoid using their toilets due to backflows from the blocked sewerage system.

SAHRC Investigation

Responding to numerous complaints, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) conducted a site inspection of these towns in September 2021. The commission’s investigative report, signed off on 20 April 2023, highlighted the appalling living conditions of residents who are forced to endure the presence of raw sewage in their yards and homes. The investigation found that the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality and Tswaing Local Municipality violated the Constitution, the Water Services Act, and the National Environmental Management Act.

Municipal Response

Although the municipalities initially denied water and sanitation challenges, SAHRC officials could carry out site inspections with the assistance of local officials. Despite promises made by the cities to address the issues by providing more water service points and appointing a service provider to unblock sewerage pipes, a follow-up inspection in October 2021 revealed that these promises still needed to be fulfilled.

The Final Investigative Report

The Final Investigative Report directs the municipalities to take several actions to address these human rights violations. These actions include providing a minimum of 25 liters of potable water per person per day, supplying proper toilets, assessing the towns’ water and sanitation infrastructure, and determining the cost of fixing it.

The Extent of the Problem

Data from the national Department of Water and Sanitation Integrated Regulatory Information Services (IRIS) website reveals that sewage treatment works in Ottosdal and Delareyville must meet minimum treatment standards before releasing effluent into local river systems. Additionally, five of the six drinking water distribution systems in the Tswaing Local Municipality have a 0% compliance rate for microbiological and chemical indicators, suggesting that no testing for water quality is taking place.

A Local Businessman’s Experience

Despite the SAHRC’s findings, a local businessman in Sannieshof claims everything has stayed the same since the site visit in 2021. The persistent smell of sewage fills the air, and drinking water is only available at night, sometimes with a foul odor. Complaints to the municipality have been met with no response, further emphasizing the gravity of these communities’ water and sanitation crisis.

Urgent Call for Action

The SAHRC’s directions serve as an urgent call for action to address this critical issue. As South African municipalities continue to violate constitutional rights by failing to provide basic water and sanitation services, it is essential that all relevant stakeholders, including local and national governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector, come together to find sustainable solutions to this problem. Access to clean water and sanitation is a fundamental human right, and all actors must ensure that these rights are upheld for all South African citizens.

Environmentalist and Outdoor Enthusiast. Amanda is a nature-loving, energetic, and enthusiastic environmentalist who has dedicated her life to exploring and protecting Cape Town's stunning natural landscapes. She is an experienced hiker, wildlife enthusiast, and advocate for sustainable tourism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

An Unforgettable Mother’s Day at Jamestown Flower Farm

Next Story

Explore the Wild and Wonderful World of Foraging with Veld & Sea Workshops

Latest from Blog

Empowering Migrant Children in South Africa through the ChommY Initiative

South Africa is home to the largest population of child migrants on the continent, with an estimated 642,000 migrant children residing within its borders. The Department of Social Development, in partnership with USAID, seeks to address the challenges faced by this vulnerable population through the ChommY program.

Cape Town’s Urban Mobility Budget: Promoting Growth and Progress

Cape Town is currently undergoing an exciting transformation in its urban mobility landscape, with the Urban Mobility Budget serving as a driving force for a more connected and thriving metropolis. Spearheaded by the Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Mobility, Councillor Rob Quintas, the City of Cape Town’s Urban Mobility Budget has been tabled for 2023/2024 to 2025/2026. This budget aims to enhance the city’s infrastructure by focusing on essential elements such as maintenance, congestion relief, public transport, and smart mobility.

Accelerating Sanitation Delivery in the Western Cape: The Role of the Provincial Sanitation Task Team

The Western Cape Provincial Sanitation Task Team (PSTT) is a Department of Water and Sanitationled initiative that aims to provide adequate and equitable sanitation to the citizens of the Western Cape. In this article, we will take a closer look at the PSTT’s role in accelerating sanitation delivery in the region, including its alignment with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.2 target and the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 vision.