Cape Town loses open-toilet battle

2011-04-29 14:17

The construction of open toilets at the Makhaza informal settlement on the Cape Flats meant that the City of Cape Town had lost sight of the constitutional rights and needs of the poor, the Western Cape High Court ruled today.

In a judgment that lasted longer than three hours, Judge Nathan Erasmus declared the provision of unenclosed toilets at the settlement to be a violation of the residents’ constitutional rights to dignity.

He ruled that an agreement concluded between the then mayor of Cape Town and the City of Cape Town itself for the provision of unenclosed toilets, was unreasonable, unlawful and inconsistent with the mayor and City of Cape Town’s constitutional duties to provide for the basic needs of the poor.

The judge ordered the city to enclose the 1 316 toilets that form part of the Silvertown upgrade projects which included the unenclosed toilets at Makhaza.

The DA-run city was taken to court by the ANC Youth League, who accused it of violating residents’ right to human dignity after 51 toilets were erected without enclosures in Makhaza, Khayelitsha in December 2009.

The ANCYL, on behalf of community members, lodged a complaint about the open toilets with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in January last year.

The SAHRC recommended to the City that it reinstall the 51 toilets, but the city appealed against the SAHRC finding.

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