Limpopo lawyer takes state head-on for allegedly failing to supply water, sanitation to his village
Johannesburg - Attorney Matome Chidi has had enough of seeing his community, rural Dipetane in Limpopo, going without a proper supply of water, and has decided to challenge the district municipality in the high court.
He has launched an application at the Polokwane High Court intended to secure an order compelling the Capricorn district municipality to supply water and sanitation to Dipetane.
The application seeks to give Capricorn 60 days to supply the community with clean water.
Chidi argued in his court papers that Capricorn had violated the human rights of residents by failing to ensure reliable water supply.
Dipetane usually went weeks without water. In what seemed like a water rationing strategy by the municipality, taps would have water for a few days in a month.
But Dipetane was just one of many rural communities in the country without a reliable water supply.
This week, the North Gauteng High Court heard an application by five communities in Flag Boshielo West, Limpopo, that do not have water despite five court orders in their favour.
The shoddy water supply by Capricorn municipality robbed Dipetane residents of their dignity, said Chidi.
“(It) is inconsistent with the right to dignity, and human dignity as a value, in that those without water-drawing boreholes, especially women, have limited bathing options.”
The poorest had the worst access to water, because they did not have tanks to store water and were at risk of contracting cholera, Chidi said.
This was “inconsistent with the right to equality"
Chidi, who obtained his law degree from the University of Limpopo and runs Polokwane-based law firm, Chidi Attorneys, told The Star that the water supply in his community started becoming poor around 2008.
“It was better before 2008. Supply was never sufficient, but it was better,” he said.
The Covid-19 pandemic lockdown appeared to have improved the community’s water situation, but this did not last, added Chidi.
“Before Covid-19 we’d go for a month, at times two weeks without water.
"During the month of April we had water.
“Come June, things went back to going two weeks without water. The situation has returned to pre-Covid.”
Capricorn’s plans dating back to 2006 to supply Dipetane with water from the Nandoni Dam project have failed, Chidi’s papers said.
The multimillion-rand Nandoni Dam project was mired in controversies.
As even communities nearer the dam outside Thohoyandou waited for its completion, there were reports of the project's money being squandered.
Chidi’s papers accused Capricorn of violating the rights of Dipetane’s residents by making them wait for completion of the dam when nearer water sources could be considered.
Chidi revealed that Capricorn filed notice to oppose his application. The parties would now file affidavits before the court can hear the case.
Attempts to get comment from Capricorn were unsuccessful. Mayor John Mpe did not pick up his phone nor reply to WhatsApp messages.