On 1 March 2020, the Daily Maverick published an op-ed by SERI's Alana Potter entitled, Beyond Kgetlengrivier: Citizen groups taking over collapsed municipal services is only a short-term solution. In the op-ed, Potter discusses the recent judgment in Kgetlengrivier Concerned Citizens & Another v Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality & Others and its implications for water services provision in municipality that are failing to meet their constitutional obligations.
In an interim order, Judge Festus Gura sentenced the Kgetlengrivier's municipal manager to 90 days imprisonment, suspended, and agreed to allow the residents’ association, Kgetlengrivier Concerned Citizens, to take control of the waterworks, paid for by local and provincial government. The judge also gave the municipality until 1 March 2021 to demonstrate why the interim order should not be made final.
In the op-ed, Potter draws on SERI's recently published case study on how the Harrismith Water Heroes in Maluti-a-Phofung are claiming their community's water rights by fixing their town’s water infrastructure, largely at their own cost. Potter argues that "as innovative as self-provision undoubtedly is, water is a public good and it is profoundly risky for water services providers to operate without public oversight."She writes that while the agreement reached in the Kgetlengrivier case "might present a short-term solution to rehabilitate and run water services in small rural towns where residents have more technical capacity than their municipalities", there is an urgent need for longer-term solutions to the crisis in municipalities and their inability to deliver basic services to the communities they serve. Potter concludes that "the dire state of water services in South Africa will not be addressed until we find ways to harness and engage constructively with communities and with their efforts to ensure access to water services."