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Human Rights Commission to hold a provincial inquiry on access to water in KZN

04 July 2022

The commission has been inundated with complaints relating to challenges with access to water in various districts of KZN.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial office of the South African Human Rights Commission (KZN PO) will hold a provincial inquiry on access to water in KZN.

The commission has been inundated with complaints relating to challenges with access to water in various districts in the province.

The inquiry will commence on Monday and will continue until July 15.

The commission said the issue of poor or no access to water remains a current day-to-day challenge for many residents, communities, schools, businesses, and other organisations across the province. It said these challenges have been highlighted to a great extent by various media reports.

The commission said most municipalities’ responses to the complaint are inadequate in that they are unable to provide appropriate and sustainable redress to the affected communities.

As such, said the commission, these complaints amount to a prima facie violation of the basic human right to have access to sufficient clean water.

It said that given its far-reaching impact on all affected communities, there is a need for a strategic intervention to address these challenges in the short, medium and long term.

Commissioner Philile Ntuli has been elected to lead the panel with her deputy, Commissioner Chris Nissen, and they will also be joined by external experts appointed by the panel if required.

The inquiry will make findings, report on and make recommendations and directives concerning the various broad and overarching issues for investigation.

This includes the extent of the challenges experienced by the communities in KZN relating to access to clean drinking water, the systemic nature of the violations, and the extent to which the organs of the state have respected, protected, promoted, and fulfilled the right to sufficient water.

It also looks at the reasonableness of measures including legislation, by-laws, policies, and programmes adopted by organs of state to ensure the realisation of the right to sufficient water.

Ultimately, said the commission, the inquiry will aim to determine whether the water service authorities within the KZN province have violated residents’ rights to access clean drinking water, as provided for in national legislation as well as in the Constitution.

The Commission has also invited submissions from identified government departments, state entities, business chambers, communities and other interested parties who have information that can assist in this investigation.

Chairperson of the Msunduzi Association of Residents, Ratepayers and Civics, Anthony Waldhausen, said they have also been invited to be part of the investigation by making their submissions.

He said they will be meeting as different ratepayers from Msunduzi to formulate points which will be submitted to the commission.

“As the city, we are faced with serious water issues and whenever we report these issues, we always get responses that the city doesn’t have enough funds and that their infrastructure is old. There are places which go without water for a week. Communities in the city are always reporting pipe bursts and leaks which the municipality takes a long time to respond to and these are some of the issues that we will raise with the commission,” said Waldhausen.

Source: The Witness

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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