Urgent reminder to Rand Water about reduced water

Henry

The civil rights organization AfriForum sent an urgent reminder to Rand Water after it reduced water supply to several municipalities due to overdue debts. Rand Water is now also threatening to reduce water supply even further unless the overdue debt – which collectively amounts to around R3 billion – is settled or payment agreements are met.

The municipalities affected include the Emfuleni local municipality and the Lesedi local municipality in the Sedibeng district municipality in Gauteng; Rand West City local municipality, the Merafong City local municipality in the West Rand district municipality in Gauteng; as well as the Govan Mbeki local municipality in Mpumalanga.

AfriForum says its legal team has sent the urgent reminder so that the “malpractice” is stopped and residents receive the necessary water. The organization says that in most cases residents faithfully pay their water bills to the municipality, but these local authorities fail to pay them over to Rand Water.

“Access to clean water is a constitutional right as prescribed in section 27 of the Constitution and this malpractice by Rand Water threatens to violate this right. Already in 2023, AfriForum obtained a court order in the High Court in Pretoria declaring similar debt collection by Rand Water illegal and unconstitutional.

“We are therefore very surprised that a similar strategy is now being followed and will not hesitate to approach the court to set aside the current practice of water cuts applied by Rand Water,” says Petrus Coetzee, AfriForum’s advisor for local government affairs .

Morné Mostert, AfriForum’s manager for local government affairs, says Rand Water cannot hide behind a contractual remedy and follow an unfair process through its decision to reduce water supply.

“Rand Water makes this decision – which can cause large-scale damage to communities – in the absence of any public participation process.”

Mostert labels the process as unconstitutional and says it does not even meet the standards of the Act on the Promotion of Administrative Justice.

Coetzee also says that disputes between state organs must not be allowed to negatively affect ordinary citizens.

“Municipalities cause this problem due to default, but remedies and mechanisms must be used to collect debts that do not violate people’s constitutional rights.

“AfriForum will consider all its options to ensure that this malpractice is stopped,” says Coetzee.