SJC to take City of Cape Town to court over flush toilets

2016-07-04 16:53

Cape Town – The Social Justice Coalition is taking its fight for proper sanitation in Khayelitsha to court.

At a press conference on Monday, the coalition said this was a last resort after what they called a six-year battle to get proper toilets in the Nkanini and CT Section informal settlements.

SJC general secretary Phumeza Mlungwana said they were not being unreasonable by asking for flushing toilets for the informal settlements.

The coalition has filed a notice of motion in both the Western Cape High Court and the Equality Court.

In May, the council in the City of Cape Town discussed the draft budget, of which R15m had been allocated for the installation of flush toilets in informal settlements.

Activist Zackie Achmat said they were also taking the matter to the Equality Court, as the people who used these temporary toilets were mostly black.

He said they were not only discriminated against on the basis of race, but also class and geography.

They were hoping the courts would eventually hear the two cases as one.

In its court application, the coalition asked the courts to declare that chemical toilets and portable flush toilets did not comply with the minimum standards for basic sanitation under the Water Services Act.

They hoped the courts would direct the City to take steps towards eradicating the provision of temporary chemical, container and portable flush toilets to informal settlements.

"Direct the City to deliver a report under oath stating what measures it intends to take towards eradicating the provision of chemical, container and portable flush toilets to informal settlements... and towards long-term realisation of the rights of the residents of informal settlements in its jurisdiction, to basic sanitation services and facilities in a manner that vindicates their constitutional rights," the court papers read.

'Inferior sanitation services for black people'

In it's application to the Equality Court, the SJC alleges that the City "provides inferior sanitation services to the persons concerned, who are overwhelmingly black, compared to other racial groups".

The coalition said on Monday that this was aimed at the two areas, but would have wider implications if granted by the courts.

Two of the respondents in the case - Nosiphelele Msesiwe and Nobathembu Seplani - who were at the press conference, detailed the difficulties faced by families using the temporary toilets.

Issues included lack of privacy and infections, as some toilets were used by up to eight families.

They said their families had gone through various "temporary" toilets while living in the same township for years.

In May, the chairperson of Western Cape Standing Committee on Local Government, Masizole Mnqasela, said the City of Cape Town spent far more than any other metro on free and basic services.

"It also spends by far the most of its budget on creating new sanitary infrastructure for the poor. It is not a lack of will on the part of the City to deliver more flushing toilets. It is just the fact that, although it does more than any other metro, the backlog and influx of new residents is so high, there has to be a priority," he said.

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