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Media Statement: SAHRC Subpoena Moqaka local municipality over the failure to honour recommendations to rebuild enclosed toilets in Rammolutsi

13 MARCH 2013

ATTENTION: Editors and Reporters

The South African Human Rights Commission has been monitoring the implementation of its recommendations by the Moqhaka Local Municipality following our finding in 2011 against the municipality for building unenclosed toilets for the residents of Rammolutsi, Viljoenskroon, in the Free State.

It is disappointing that the Moqhaka Local Municipality has reneged on its obligations to rebuild the enclosed structures and to furnish the SAHRC with progress report to that effect every six month until the violation has been remedied.
The last progress report was due at the end of January 2013.

The Commission has decided to subpoena the municipality and its leadership to appear before an inquiry on Thursday this week to clarify why they reneged on their obligations.

The Municipality will be required to give evidence in respect of the following aspects:

•The Municipality’s failure to furnish the Commission with progress report;
•The progressive realization of the right to water and sanitation;
•Mechanisms put in place to ensure the project to enclose all toilets remains transparent and responsive;
•Public participation and ongoing consultation regarding access to basic sanitation;

The action by the Commission is guided by Section 18 of the South African Human Rights Commission Act, 1994, which provides that any person who without just cause, refuses or fails to comply with a notice under section 9(1)(c) of the Act, ... or refuses or fails to furnish particulars or information required from him or her under that section, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

Should the Moqhaka Local Municipality fail to appear before the inquiry, the Commission intends to escalate this to the attention of the National Prosecuting Authority and the SAPS for further action.

BACKGROUND

In September 2010, the residents of Rammolutsi Township near Viljoenskroon lodged a complaint with the Commission after the Moqhaka Local Municipality installed unenclosed toilets in the township.

The complaint was in light of our investigation and findings on the same situation in Makhaza in the City of Cape Town.

The complaint before the Commission was an alleged violation of a number of rights in the Constitution based on the unenclosed toilets in the Township. The rights alleged to have been violated were: Section 10 (Human Dignity), Section 14 (Privacy), Section 24 (Environment), Section 26 (Housing) and Section 27 (1)(b)( water)

Investigations undertaken by the Commission revealed that there were indeed unenclosed toilets in the area of Rammulotsi. The provision of unenclosed toilets was not only contrary to the guidelines of the National Housing Code but a violation of the residents’ right to dignity.

The Commission subsequently made a finding against the municipality in May 2011 and upheld the complaint of violations to the aforesaid rights.

The Commission accordingly recommended that:

•The Respondent (Moqhaka Local Municipality) must proceed with urgency to enclose all toilets;
•To furnish the Commission with a progress report at least every 6 months in respect of the progressive realisation of the right to water and sanitation services in the township;
•The Ministry in the Presidency in charge of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation to provide a report to the Commission within at least three months on the quality of sanitation services delivered by local government across the country.

Initially the Moqhaka Local Municipality complied with the recommendation, forwarding two progress reports in March and July 2012 to the Commission.
The reports indicated that as of July 2012, 1831 structures in Rammulotsi have been completed. And overall reconstruction was estimated at R17 million rands.

ENDS

Issued by:
Isaac Mangena
Head: Communications
South African Human Rights Commission
071 884 8273



 
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