Today, SERI is launching the last of four cases in the Claiming Water Rights in South Africa research series, "Maluti-a-Phofung - a community doing it for themselves". The research project was launched in a Water Rights Webinar Series held in partnership with the Mail & Guardian. The research forms part of the global #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign initiated by End Water Poverty

uMgungundlovu Case Study COVERThe case study, “Maluti-a-Phofung – a community doing it for themselves” documents the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes - who, in the face of continued poor service delivery, took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure, largely at their own cost.

The case study, “Maluti-a-Phofung – a community doing it for themselves” documents the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes - who, in the face of continued poor service delivery, took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure, largely at their own cost.

The Harrismith Water Heroes formed following a water outage that lasted for at least 40 days in July 2018. Local farmers had stepped in and supplied water, but many businesses closed. Petrus Claasen van Eeden (a local farmer) and Sam Twala (a community leader from Intabazwe) went to the Nuwejaarspruit Pump Station to investigate the nature of the problem and this chance encounter sparked an unlikely coalition.

The provision of basic services in Intabazwe, Harrismith and surrounds has deteriorated steadily over the past decade, fuelled by political in-fighting, crippling debt and the collapse of governance and administration within Maluti municipality. Difficulties around access to water in Maluti-a-Phofung date back to the early 2000s. Residents of Intabazwe organised two major protests in 2004 and 2009, blocking the N3 in response to municipal failure to provide water services. By 2016, water services were increasingly difficult to access.

The Maluti-a-Phofung municipality is by no means unique, and increasing numbers of residents in rural areas, informal settlements and small towns across the country rely on self-provisioned water supply as municipal services fall into deeper disarray. A growing number of municipalities are being placed under administration because they are dysfunctional. 

Water report UmgunundlovuMarikanaMakana SQUARE COVERS

On 6 October 2020, SERI launched the synthesis report entitled “Claiming water rights in South Africa” as well as the case study of the Marikana informal settlement entitled “Residents of Marikana informal settlement use expropriation as a tool” which is the second of four case studies. On 20 October 2020, SERI launched “Farm dwellers fight for access to water in uMgungundlovu district municipality” and on 3 November 2020, SERI launched the third report in the series entitled "Makana local municipality – provincial intervention in a municipal crisis".

 

 

The publications are:

  • Case study 2: Residents of Marikana informal settlement use expropriation as a tool (launched on 6 October). This is a seminal case because it illustrates how expropriation in terms of the Housing Act can be utilised as a tool to widen access to urban land for poor people and to provide them with services where they already live. The experiences of the residents of Marikana also illustrate how important it is to tackle the struggle for tenure security, services and ultimately a dignified life, using a range of mutually reinforcing strategies including community organisation, engagement, protest, self-supply and litigation.
  • Case study 4: Maluti-a-Phofung - a community doing it for themselves (launched on 17 November 2020). The last case study reflects on the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders in Maluti-a-Phofung – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes – who, in the face of continued poor service delivery by local government took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure.  

Marikana Families Truth revealedOn 10 to 12 November 2020, Former North West Deputy Police Commissioner, Major General William Mpembe, Brigadier Gideon van Zyl, Colonel Dingaan Madoda and Lieutenant Colonel Oupa Pule presented evidence in their defence at the North West High Court on charges relating to the death of Motisaoitsile Van Wyk Sagalala, one of the Marikana striking miners. The four police officers are charged with defeating the ends of justice, contravening Section (29)(1) of the IPID Act for failure to report a death in police custody to IPID and contravening Section 6(2) of the Commission Act for lying to the Commission under oath.

Mr Sagalala was killed by the police on 16 August 2012. The SAPS informed the Marikana Commission of Inquiry that Mr Sagalala had died at the hospital, however, the IPID investigation found that Mr Sagalala had, in fact, died inside the police truck at the detention centre. The investigation revealed a cover-up to support the claim that Mr Sagalala died at the Andrew Saffy Hospital. The North West High Court heard undisputed testimony that Mr Sagalala was handcuffed despite his injuries and died on the way to a temporary detention centre. The circumstances of Mr Sagalala’s death show the cruelty and brutality suffered by the miners at the hands of the police on 16 August 2012.

The police have had many opportunities to take responsibility for their actions in Marikana but have instead elected to lie, omit vital information and avoid any accountability. This behaviour demonstrates the police’s unwillingness to right the wrongs of this massacre. 

The families of the slain miners recognise the efforts of the NPA and IPID and see the prosecutions of those involved in the massacre as an opportunity for the full circumstances leading to the deaths of their loved ones to be revealed.  

Contact details:

  • Nomzamo Zondo, SERI’s Executive Director: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ 071 301 9676.
  • Asenati Tukela, SERI Candidate Attorney: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./ 078 684 7658.

Read the full statement here.

MG rubber bullet op ed Rayner Masiangoako CorneyOn 12 November 2020, the Mail & Guardian published an op-ed by University of London research associate Dr. Mary Rayner, SERI researcher Thato Masiangoako and Omega Research Foundation's Neil Corney on the dangerous nature of rubber bullets, as a weapon often used by the South African Police Services (SAPS) in public order policing.

They argue that "there is an urgent need to address these issues and to review the “less-lethal weapons” upon which public order police rely. These include the double-ball rounds, fired by 12-gauge pump-action shotguns, which are indiscriminate and inaccurate, and should be prohibited."

From incidents during and prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, there have been numerous incidents that have illustrated the inherent risks from the use of rubber bullets including the fatal shooting of Andries Tatane in 2011 and concerning injuries sustained from incidents of excessive uses of force against student protestors at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2016, where the police fired 2 624 rubber bullets.  Cases documented in the Socio-Economic Rights Institute’s (SERI) A Double Harm report show that the police caused serious injuries when they fired rubber bullets at “close” or “contact-range”, at unarmed students, humanitarian workers and fleeing protestors who posed no threat at the time.

They add that "the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) confirmed that many kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs), such as rubber bullets discharged from shotguns, are inaccurate and indiscriminate, particularly when multiple projectiles are fired simultaneously from the same weapon or when they are fired towards the ground because there is no control over the direction of the bullets fired... thereby putting unintended targets at risk whenever this weapon is fired."

 

  • Read the full op-ed here.
  • Download SERI's A Double Harm report here.

 

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) and the Mail & Guardian invite you to the

Water Rights Webinar Series

Self-supply – lessons from Harrismith’s ‘Water Heroes’

“Maluti-a-Phofung – a community doing it for themselves” is one of four cases in SERI’s Claiming Water Rights in South Africa research series. The case documents the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes - who, in the face of continued poor service delivery, took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure.  The Maluti-a-Phofung municipality is by no means unique, and increasing numbers of residents in rural areas, informal settlements and small towns across the country rely on self-provisioned water supply as municipal services fall into deeper disarray. Where government is not able to provide water services, should it enable residents to provide their own services? What are the implications and risks of self-supply? What must be done to address municipalities' failure to provide adequate water services?

Maluti webinar invitation SM FINAL

When:  Tuesday, 17 November 2020; 10h30-12h00 via Zoom

Who:   Sam Twala (Chairman, Harrismith Water Heroes) • Neil McLeod (former Head, eThekwini Water and Sanitation, eThekwini Metro) • John Butterworth (Director, IRC’s Global Hub, self-supply expert) • Bongekile Macupe (Journalist, Mail & Guardian) • Facilitated by Alana Potter (Director Research and Advocacy, SERI).

RSVP:  Register for the Zoom webinar here by 16 November 2020.

 

  • Download the invitation here.

Launched reports:

  • Download the synthesis report here.
  • Download the uMgungundlovu case study here.
  • Download the Marikana informal settlement case study here.
  • Download the Makana case study here.

 

Today, SERI is launching another one of the case studies in the Claiming Water Rights in South Africa research series, "Makana local municipality – provincial intervention in a municipal crisis". The research project was launched in a Water Rights Webinar Series held in partnership with the Mail & Guardian. The research forms part of the global #ClaimYourWaterRights campaign initiated by End Water Poverty

uMgungundlovu Case Study COVERThe Makana case study is about a municipality in crisis. It has faced various challenges related to service delivery, administration, and finances, many of which have recurred over long periods of time. The crisis includes water outages, water quality problems, near non-existent road maintenance, failure to collect refuse timeously and the inability to manage waste sites and illegal dumping. Water supply across the municipality, and in Makhanda in particular, has been crippled by a combination of aging infrastructure desperately in need of repairs and severe drought over the past four years which has almost emptied a number of dams on which Makhanda relies for its water supply. 

The Eastern Cape provincial government has intervened twice in terms of section 139 of the Constitution, which provides for provincial intervention into local government when a municipality is in crisis. When neither of those interventions resulted in the desired change, community activists, led by the Unemployed People’s Movement, began to advocate with increasing vigour for the dissolution of the municipal council, and eventually approached the Makhanda High Court.

In January this year, the Makhanda High Court confirmed that Makana Municipality was in breach of its constitutional service delivery obligations and directed the province to dissolve the Makana Municipal Council. The application for leave to appeal lodged by both Makana Municipality and the provincial government was refused by the High Court. The municipality subsequently petitioned the SCA which has granted leave to appeal.

The judgment from the High Court is the first of its kind in South Africa, and is the product of a long and painful struggle by the people of Makana spanning more than a decade, and which is by no means over.

Unfortunately, Makana Municipality is not an outlier, but is situated within a systemic picture of local government collapse across the country. Although there are multiple factors contributing to this, the poor and deteriorating state of municipal finances and financial mismanagement is a critical contributor. In the 2018/2019 financial year, 113 municipalities adopted unfunded budgets, meaning that they had plans to spend money they did not have. In the period 2017 – 2019 more than thirty municipalities did not receive a clean audit.

Water report Marikana COVERS

 On 6 October 2020, SERI launched the synthesis report entitled “Claiming water rights in South Africa” as well as the case study of the Marikana informal settlement entitled “Residents of Marikana informal settlement use expropriation as a tool” which is the second of four case studies. On 20 October 2020, SERI launched “Farm dwellers fight for access to water in uMgungundlovu district municipality”.

 

 

The publications are:

  • Case study 2: Residents of Marikana informal settlement use expropriation as a tool (launched on 6 October). This is a seminal case because it illustrates how expropriation in terms of the Housing Act can be utilised as a tool to widen access to urban land for poor people and to provide them with services where they already live. The experiences of the residents of Marikana also illustrate how important it is to tackle the struggle for tenure security, services and ultimately a dignified life, using a range of mutually reinforcing strategies including community organisation, engagement, protest, self-supply and litigation.
  • Case study 4: Maluti-a-Phofung – a community doing it for themselves (to be launched on 17 November 2020). The last case study reflects on the efforts of an unusual coalition of residents and community leaders in Maluti-a-Phofung – known as the Harrismith Water Heroes – who, in the face of continued poor service delivery by local government took it upon themselves to fix their town’s water infrastructure.  

 

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