South Coast fight for water heads to court

Residents of the lower KwaZulu-Natal South Coast are preparing to take the Ugu district municipality to court for failing to provide them with water over the past decade.

A number of towns and rural areas in the district — which stretches from Kingsburgh to Port Edward and inland beyond Harding — are without water in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Port Edward resident Heidi Sampieri, one of the residents who is co-ordinating the initiative, confirmed that they are meeting lawyers on July 1 to bring a class action against the municipality, home to about 750 000 people. 

Another resident, Amanda Liebenberg, said: “We have organised to meet with the lawyers to go ahead with the court action. People are frustrated over the failure of the municipality to do its job and want us now to go the legal route for intervention.”

The Port Edward and Banners Rest Ratepayers’ Association has previously laid complaints with the office of the public protector over the failure of Ugu to supply water and other municipal services. The situation has been exacerbated by political infighting in the municipality and the collapse of infrastructure, including reservoirs and pump stations, in various parts of the district.


Earlier this year, pump stations were allegedly sabotaged during industrial action after about 70 municipal employees were fired for participating in an unprotected strike. This brought the water supply to towns throughout the district to a halt. On June 11, the municipality passed an 8% increase in water and sanitation charges, effective from July 1, in its annual budget.

Sampieri said she has been battling with an intermittent water supply since moving to the town seven years ago. She has not had water in her home for the past three weeks.

“We have had nothing but promises from Ugu for the whole time. I pay my bills on time every month, but they make no effort to sort out the situation because we have the same problem, year after year. They filled the water tank near the library last week for the first time since December,” Sampieri said. 

“The Covid-19 situation makes things worse. People are exposed to it because they have to walk for water. There’s no water to wash, so how can people protect themselves?’’

She said she was participating in the court action because “‘we don’t have any other choice. We are being fed lies by the municipality. We don’t have water, but they are increasing our water bills. This is a major humanitarian problem.”

Ugu municipality spokesperson Simon April had not responded by the time of publication.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.
Advertising

The case against Floyd Shivambu

The flow of money from VBS Bank would seem to suggest that the EFF’s second-in-command was an ultimate beneficiary of proceeds of a crime

Cabinet reshuffle rumours: Unlikely to happen any time soon, but…

Persistent rumours of a cabinet reshuffle may be jumping the gun, but they do reflect the political realignment taking place within the ANC

Nigeria’s anti-corruption boss arrested for corruption

Ibrahim Magu’s arrest by the secret police was a surprise — but also not surprising

Eskom refers employees suspected of contracts graft for criminal investigations

The struggling power utility has updated Parliament on investigations into contracts where more than R4-billion was lost in overpayments
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday