Free State toilets - 'residents' rights violated'

2011-05-16 18:48

Johannesburg - The SA Human Rights Commission has found that the rights and dignity of residents in the Moqhaka municipality in the Free State were violated when they were forced to use open toilets.

In its findings, released in a statement on Monday, the commission said the municipality's explanation, that it lacked adequate resources, was not justified and "therefore unacceptable".

"The respondent failed to adequately conceptualise, plan and implement its project which resulted in the residents being forced to use unenclosed toilets."

It said the measures provided by the municipality did not meet the "reasonable" standard of the right to water and sanitation services.

"The complaint of violations to the rights of human dignity, privacy, and a clean environment are upheld."

The commission found that the provincial and national government did not "adequately monitor" the municipality's work or intervene in respect of their legislative and constitutional obligations.

The Democratic Alliance had lodged a complaint with the SAHRC last year when 1 600 unenclosed toilets were discovered in the ANC-run municipality.

In a similar incident in the DA-run Western Cape, Cape Town was ordered to enclose over 1 000 toilets in Makhaza, Khayelitsha in May.

In a statement, the opposition said the ANC used the open toilet saga to portray the DA as being racist and called for an apology.

"The DA calls on the ANC to retract and apologise for its accusations of racism, made against the Democratic Alliance in relation to the situation in Makhaza," spokesperson Lindiwe Mazibuko said.

"The ANC has used the issue of open toilets to portray the DA as racist. Now more than ever the ANC needs to focus on service delivery rather than racial rhetoric and good governance rather than divisiveness."

Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency Collins Chabane said his department was working with National Treasury to monitor the implementation of infrastructure delivery.

It would also work with the human settlements ministry to investigate what led to the building of the toilets by the municipality.

Chabana said he was concerned with the provision of open toilets and would ensure it was not repeated again anywhere in the country.

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