Labour tenants and farm occupiers in the Pietermaritzburg and KZN midlands areas will file a class action suit on Friday in a bid to force local municipalities to provide them with clean water and sanitation services. The farm occupiers and tenants, represented by the Association for Rural Advancement and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), will file papers in the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) against the Mshwathi, Msunduzi and Mgungundlovu municipalities, notes Legalbrief.

They argue that the municipalities have acted in breach of the Constitution by failing to take reasonable measures to ensure their rights to water and basic sanitation were met. Furthermore, the municipalities have failed to meet constitutional obligations to promote social and economic development and to give priority to the basic needs of communities, they say.

The municipalities are also in breach of the Water Services Act, Regulations Relating to Compulsory National Standards and Measures to Conserve Water, the White Paper on Water Supply and Sanitation Policy 1994, the Extension of Security of Tenure Act as well as the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.

The LRC will ask the court to effectively order the municipalities to present a plan within one month of the order being granted, detailing how they would address the basic needs of the communities. Specifically, they ask for the installation of a sufficient number of water user connections to supply a minimum quantity of potable water of 25 litres per person per day or six kilolitres per household per month; assurance that the water user connections supply water at a minimum flow rate of not less than 10 litres per minute; and that the water user connections supplied are within 200 metres of the farm dwellers' households.

Case summary