Friday 27 July 2012
Lawyers for Human Rights say the decision by the Gert Sibande Municipality in Mpumalanga to appeal a court ruling to provide clean water to residents of Carolina, indicates the municipality’s refusal to accept responsibility.
The High Court in Pretoria has granted the municipality leave to appeal against the original ruling. Residents say their water supply has not been suitable for human consumption since January.
Lawyers for Human Rights spokesperson, Anjuli Maistry says “I think that it’s very important that the judge noted that the water crisis is a fiasco and that the needs of the people must be met when it comes to water but I think that the most important point is that our rule 49 application has been granted, which means that originally the order would have been suspended when somebody takes leave to appeal but now because of our rule 49 application having been granted, the municipality will have to execute the original order in the first place.”
Earlier this month, the two organisations welcomed a North Gauteng High court order compelling municipal authorities to provide temporary water supply to the residents within 72 hours.
However, when the court order lapsed, the Gert Sibande District Municipality together with the Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality made an application for leave to appeal. The grounds of appeal included that the matter was not urgent. Carolina residents say they have now gone seven months without clean water or a reliable water supply.
The water was contaminated by mine acid following heavy rains in January this year.
Water scientist with the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, Koos Pretorius said: “The water PH is 10.9. That is far exceeding what is allowable in terms of the SANAS regulations. In other words you are basically drinking bicarbonate of soda and we’re getting reports from the town’s people that if you boil that water it just foams over the top. So that water is outside of the regulations as already stated as far as PH is concerned and as far as bicarbonate is concerned. And so that it is not potable. The municipality apparently said people can drink the water with caution. Now what does drinking the water with caution mean?”