Pretoria – The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has ruled in favour of residents of Lebowakgomo, in Limpopo, who took the local authorities to court over water supply problems.
Judge Francis Legodi granted an order on Monday giving the Capricorn district municipality and Lepelle-Nkumpi local municipality a year to replace and repair all leaking water pipes and defective water meters in the Lebowakgomo Zone A area.
Pending the repair and replacement, or until reliable and accurate water accounts could be issued, residents of Zone A would have to pay only a flat rate of R70 a household a month for water consumption.
For the period between August 2009 and September 2011, they would be held responsible only for a rate of R50 a month.
The court ordered the Capricorn municipality not to refuse to issue proof of residence to any resident in Lebowakgomo because of outstanding water accounts, and not to refuse proof of good standing to Zone A’s residents.
Residents complained that water consumption had become impossible because the water pipes and connections had fallen into a total state of disrepair.
They complained the district municipality was holding back letters of good standing, which water users needed to open bank accounts and obtain loans.
The SA National Civic Organisation took the municipalities to court on behalf of residents after their numerous complaints about incorrect water billing fell on deaf ears.
The district municipality turned down repeated offers that residents pay a flat rate for water until the dysfunctional billing was sorted out.
The municipalities conceded that the area had water leakages and shortages because of ageing infrastructure, and admitted that the asbestos pipes installed by the previous administration 30-years ago needed to be replaced.
Morwa Consulting Engineers, which was appointed last year to assess the problem, reported that 30% of Zone A’s inhabitants had leakages and water shortages, and that more than 2800 water meters were out-dated and malfunctioning.
Legodi said it was clear that no reliance could be placed on municipal water accounts, particularly for Zone A.
“The duty to supply or provide water is one thing, but the duty to issue accurate billing for the consumption or utilisation of such water is another.
“You cannot issue incorrect, inaccurate and unreliable water accounts and expect water consumers to be obliged to pay such accounts,” he said.
Is it not time to stop blaming “old infrastructure and previously installed pipes” already? It seems that every municipality blames it on everything and anything else except taking responsibility for their own status. In Brits, North West, residents have been walking through raw sewage (to enter their homes) that runs in the streets for three months already. It is such a health risk, but nothing is being done about it. Why is that? Also “old infrastructure”? The more I hear about the more I know I want to be as independent from these municipalities as much as possible. I use my harvested rainwater inside my entire house. With proper filtration installed you don’t need to be concerned about what quality water you will receive from the municipality or when you will have water outages. With Water Rhapsody’s rainwater harvesting systems you are ensured water at all times during the rainy season.