SAHRC to meet with experts to address ongoing water supply issues in eThekwini

Protesting residents burn branches, buckets and a bath tub to block a road.

Residents in and around the Verulam area within eThekwini Municipality district recently blocked roads by burning branches, buckets and a bath tub after weeks without water. File Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 19, 2024

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The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in KZN has called a meeting with water experts in the eThekwini Municipality to help address ongoing water supply issues in the Metro which are in violation of the residents right to water.

Provincial SAHRC manager Pavershree Padayachee said the Commission has since January 2024 undertaken various initiatives, such as convening meetings with affected communities; participating in war room meetings; and liaising with and issuing correspondences to various government actors across the three spheres of government.

She said the commission is particularly concerned that the Metro has failed to meet its self-imposed deadline last week.

“The Metro had committed to resolve the ongoing water supply challenges to affected areas by Thursday, 15 February 2024.”

According to Padayachee, the Commission in its inquiry report found that Water Services Authorities, such as the Metro, were in violation of the rights to access clean drinking water.

The commission is concerned that not much seems to be done to arrest this ongoing violation of the constitutional right to have access to water in the Metro, she said.

“The commission is doubtful that the Metro has the capacity to turn this dire situation around. This is so particularly given that a report indicates that the water and sanitation unit of the Metro – which is a key vehicle in water provision – has no strategic business plan in place and is currently beset by 52% vacancy rate.”

As a result, Padayachee said the commission, in line with its mandate of taking steps to secure appropriate redress where human rights have been violated, will on March 6, 2024 convene a meeting of water experts who reside in the Metro.

The commission called on experts who share in the common and mutual interest of finding solutions to the water challenges in the Metro.

“The Commission calls upon interested water experts, such as water engineers amongst others, to indicate their interest to attend the meeting by sending their RSVPs to Andrea Pillay at [email protected] or Mandy Ramare at [email protected] The RSVPs should reach the Commission by Thursday, 29 February 2024.”

Padayachee added that the Constitution empowers the SAHRC to promote the protection, development, and attainment of human rights in fulfilling its mandate.

“As such, litigation is an option the Commission can take in addressing this water crisis in eThekwini.”

The SAHRC continues to monitor the ongoing water challenges in the jurisdiction of eThekwini.

The Mercury