Appeal Against Landmark High Court Water Case Judgement Concludes at Supreme Court of Appeal


Thursday 26 February 2009 by Nic

For three days (Monday 23rd - Wednesday 25th February) the appeal against the historic High Court judgement on the rights of poor communities to equitable, adequate and affordable access to, and enjoyment of, water was heard in front of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein.

On the first day of the hearing, the small court over-flowed with residents of affected communities in Gauteng and the Free State, under the banner of CAWP. Also present throughout the hearing were two of the original complainants in the case - Jennifer Makotsoane and Grace Munyai.

The appellants - the City of Johannesburg, Johannesburg Water and the Department of Water Affairs & Forestry - brought nothing new to the case, repeating the same old and discredited arguments. As had been the case in the High Court, the appellants tried to convince the SCA that there was no need for an increased free water allocation because of their indigent/social ‘packages’ for the poor and that pre-paid water meters were perfectly legal, non-discriminatory and popularly accepted mechanisms of water delivery that have no negative impact on the rights and lives of poor communities.

Our legal team (i.e. for the ‘respondents’ in this hearing) alongside the amicus curiae of the Centre for Housing Rights & Education reiterated and expanded on, the core arguments made to the High Court. In particular, the immediate need for practical relief and affirmation of the constitutional right to water access - through the courts - was highlighted, specifically given the length of the case and the continued deprivation of rights.

It is expected that the SCA will deliver its judgement within the next 4-6 weeks. While we wait once again for the slow wheels of the justice system to move along, the struggle on the ground continues.


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