The Right to Water in South Africa: Unlimited for the Rich, Prepaid Meters for the Poor

8 Sep 2009

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On the 2nd & 3rd of September 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa heard the final appeal in a case brought by five Soweto residents challenging prepaid water meters and insufficient free basic water. 

The Bill of Rights of the South African Constitution guarantees the right of access to sufficient water. However, poor communities in Johannesburg's townships do not have sufficient water and do not receive the same water service as the richer suburbs. This six year legal battle is working to secure constitutional rights for all - water is a right not a privilege!

According to the Centre for Applied Legal Studies, "The application is brought by Phiri residents who are all unemployed and living in conditions of poverty on behalf of themselves and everyone in the public interest. The five year legal battle has been supported by the Coalition Against Water Privatisation (CAWP) and the Anti-Privatisation Forum (APF). The applicants are represented by the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS), which is a human rights research, advocacy and public interest litigation centre at the University of the Witwatersrand. The respondents are the City of Johannnesburg, Johannesburg Water (a publicly-owned water corporation) and the national Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF, now called the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs)."

The Constitutional Court is expected to deliver judgment on the case within the next 2-3 weeks.

You can find this page online at http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/168.19.

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