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Countrywide hearings on sanitation to start

2012-08-28 15:00

Johannesburg - Countrywide hearings on water and sanitation issues will start this week, the SA Human Rights Commission said on Tuesday.

The public meetings would start in Mpumalanga on Wednesday and continue across all provinces until November, the commission's deputy chairperson Pregs Govender said in Johannesburg.

"The hearings will culminate in a national hearing in March next year, where the commission's findings will be presented to Parliament and the people of South Africa."

She said the hearings were in line with the commission's poverty and inequality strategy.

"Poverty and inequality have prevented people who are poor from exercising or enjoying their Constitutional rights."

The hearings were triggered by complaints of two municipalities, one in the Western Cape, the other in the Free State, that had toilets built without enclosures.

One site was in Makhaza, Cape Town, run by the DA, the other in Rammulotsi, near Viljoenskroon, in the ANC-run Moqhaka municipality.

Commission’s right

The commission investigated and ruled that the municipalities had violated people's right to dignity, privacy, and a healthy environment.

"The commissions' findings also recognised that a lack of access to sanitation and a lack of a right-based approach to service delivery was part of a bigger problem facing millions of people who are poor," Govender said.

The commission had the right to investigate all forms of human rights violations.

"This includes calling any person to appear before the commission and to produce documents in their possession and control which may be connected to a particular investigation."

Local, provincial and national government representatives had been invited to listen and respond to people's queries and complaints during the hearings.

"We hope that they will use the opportunity to strengthen co-ordination amongst different departments and spheres of government," Govender said.