Residents to challenge state on sanitation facilities

26 05 2009

ERNEST MABUZA
Published: 2009/05/25 06:19:00 AM
Source: BusinessDay

THE government’s efforts to deal with slum conditions will once again be challenged in the Constitutional Court when a group of Gauteng slum dwellers asks the court to order the Ekurhuleni Municipality to build temporary sanitation facilities and provide high-mast lighting in their settlement

The group recently filed papers and the matter is set down for hearing in August.
Earlier this month, the court heard an application by a group of slum dwellers from KwaZulu-Natal who challenged the constitutionality of the KwaZulu-Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act. The court has reserved judgment.

The Gauteng group has taken issue with Acting High Court Judge Hilton Epstein’s dismissal of their application.

Epstein said there was no suggestion the municipality was not carrying out its obligation to take all reasonable and necessary steps within the framework of national and provincial housing legislation and policy to ensure that services were provided in a manner which was economically efficient.

In an application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court, Mandlenkosi Sikosana, one of the residents, said Epstein erred in failing to find that the constitutional right to housing, read with the Housing Code, the Water Services Act, and the regulations, imposed a mandatory minimum core content of free basic sanitation.

Sikosana said this case would have important consequences for the 130000 households in 106 informal settlements in Ekurhuleni which do not have high-mast lighting or basic sanitation services and who might have to wait until 2014 before receiving these.

“Indeed, at the current rate of the creation of 13000 serviced stands per annum, these households might have to wait not less than 10 years before they receive basic sanitation,” Sikosana said.

The Ekurhuleni Municipality submitted an application to the Gauteng housing department for the Harry Gwala informal settlement in Benoni to be upgraded in 2006.

Although this was still awaiting approval from the Gauteng housing department, the municipality had provided residents of the 400 informal houses with communal water taps and refuse removal.

The municipality provides services to 13000 stands in approved township areas at a cost of R210m a year.

When the matter was argued in the South Gauteng High Court in December, the municipality stated that once the layout of the township had been established by the division of land into individual stands as well as the layout of roads, then the necessary infrastructure for the purposes of installing engineering services could be provided.

mabuzae@bdfm.co.za

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