Labour tenants and farm occupiers in the uMgungundlovu District Municipality have emerged victorious in a court battle to get water, sanitation and refuse collection services.

In what The Witness calls a precedent-setting ruling, Judge Jerome Mnguni directed the district, Msunduzi and uMshwathi municipalities to prioritise the rights of farm occupiers and labour tenants in their Integrated Development Plans. They have six months to outline to the KZN High Court (Pietermaritzburg) their plans to provide the services.

This must explain how the municipalities will go about providing the services and set deadlines.

The reports and plans have to be advertised on the municipalities’ websites. Monthly progress reports must be provided to the applicants and the court. Comments from interested parties will also be allowed. The matter will then be enrolled before the judge for him to consider the documents.

Mnguni instructed the municipalities to install sufficient water user connections to supply 25 litres per person a day or six kilolitres per household a month to farm occupiers and labour tenants living in their jurisdiction. He has also stipulated that the water flow must not be less than 10 litres per minute. Water user connections have to be within 200 metres of a farm occupier’s household.

The municipalities also have to supply the people with access to basic sanitation by installing ventilation improved pit toilets for each household. Refuse collection also has to be provided.

Mnguni declared the municipalities’ ongoing failure to provide farm occupiers and labour tenants with access to basic sanitation, water and refuse collection, as inconsistent with the Constitution.

Full report in The Witness (subscription needed)