Targets of water privatisation have their day in court

5 December 2007 - 4:49pm


In 2004 the City of Johannesburg (COJ), through Johannesburg Water Ltd (JW), began installing pre-paid water meters that can automatically disconnect water supplies. This practice is in direct violation of the right to free water enshrined in the South African constitution. Water is rationed to six litres per person per day, far below what experts consider a bare minimum. Many families have been without access to water for long periods of time, forcing them to live in extremely unhealthy conditions.

After three years of constant community struggle, and one year after a legal challenge was launched, the case against Johannesburg's illegal water policy will finally be heard, beginning on 3 December. The Court will be asked to declare Johannesburg Water's measures unconstitutional and unlawful and to further order the company to provide a free basic water supply of 50 litres per person per day, and to offer to install credit-metered taps paid for by the city.

Leading up to the court hearing, CAWP and community members have organised a series of protests against the water company to highlight the importance of the case to all South Africans. Water is one of the basic right, and a necessity for a healthy life. The South African constitution reflects the belief that water should be free to all those in dire need.

The attempt to impose a financial value on such a resource is cruel when considering the poverty of those who would have to pay. War on Want, the APF and CAWP will continue fighting for a more equitable solution to the problem of water allocation, ensuring that the unrepresented poor can voice their concerns at a national and international level.


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