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SAHRC meets with DA top brass over lack of access to water for Gauteng residents

6 December 2022

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) today confirmed that they had interactions with both national and certain provincial structures from KwaZulu- Natal and Gauteng of the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The SAHRC said the party lodged a complaint on October 31 with the Gauteng provincial office of the SAHRC, complaining of the lack of access to water for residents in the Gauteng province.

“In particular, the matter of Rand Water curtailing the usage of water during the past few weeks. The SAHRC has been and continues to monitor and assess the water supply to residents not only of Gauteng but all provinces,” said the commission.

The commission says they would like to alert the public that South Africa is and will continue to be a water-scarce country, adding that the increased demand for water, especially in our urban areas, must be accompanied by considered and sustainable usage of this scarce resource.

“Like all other complaints received by the commission, the DA’s complaint will be assessed and handled in terms of our complaints handling procedures. At the end of July 2022, the KZN provincial office of the SAHRC received a complaint from the regional structure of the DA,” said the commission.

The commission highlighted that the complaint related to the plight of victims that had been displaced by floods and who were being sheltered in the various mass care centres.

“The SAHRC, through its KZN provincial office (KZNPO), has been monitoring and continues to do so on behalf of and with a view to protecting the rights of flood victims. This work has been ongoing since the floods hit the KZN province in April 2022. The commission has also done likewise in the province of the Eastern Cape, parts of which were also affected by floods earlier this year,” said the commission.

They clarified that the KZN flood disaster brought about unprecedented devastation and suffering, in addition to the loss of many lives and people were left in need of many things – shelter, food, water and sanitation, health care, security, and access to education for school-going children, among others.

“Consequently, countless requests and complaints were received by the commission and other entities. Many dealt with the same issue. For example, many of the complaints related to lack of access to clean water. The thrust of the commission’s efforts has been to ensure that communities receive access to their basic needs and are finally permanently resettled,” said the commission.

The commission said they had several engagements with the Premier of KZN and Members of the Executive Committees, during which the provincial government shared their response plans and also accounted for the implementation thereof as part of the process.

The commission does, however, state that they have not met with the Minister of Human Settlements, Honourable Mmamoloko Kubayi, delegates from relevant provincial departments, the City of eThekwini and other stakeholders to seek updates on measures being implemented to fast-track durable solutions, especially with reference to housing.

However, the focus of the interventions of the SAHRC has not been limited to housing, access to water or food only, but has covered all the needs of flood victims, especially where rights are or have a high risk of being violated.

While the commission has received considerable support and cooperation from many stakeholders, there are challenges and constraints that pertain. Section 27(2) and section 26(2) of the Constitution make the obligations of the state to provide access to adequate housing, sufficient food and water and social security dependent on available resources and progressive realisation.

“The commission working with Parliament will continue strengthening its oversight role within this context and will endeavour to work to bring durable solutions to the victims of the floods in both provinces.

The South African Human Rights Commission remains open to engage with all stakeholders in the country, especially as far as human rights are concerned, and has recently agreed to a further engagement with the Democratic Alliance in the near future,” added the commission.

Souce: The Star

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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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