|2012 07 16 Carolina still without water as council appeals against order|
CAROLINA, the Mpumalanga town that won a high court order against its own municipality demanding that its citizens be provided with the drinkable water to which they were constitutionally entitled, was still without water yesterday, townspeople said.
Instead of meeting Judge Moses Mavundla's 10am Friday deadline to provide the 17000 people of the Carolina area with potable water, the Gert Sibande District Municipality filed an application for leave to appeal against the ruling.
Judge Mavundla was wrong to rule the matter was urgent, and also to order the Gert Sibande District Municipality to provide the water, the municipality said in its application.
"It was common cause that Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality ... is the person or institution that is/was accredited as a 'water services authority' within its territorial area of jurisdiction — inclusive of the Carolina town.... It should have followed, therefore, that since Gert Sibande District Municipality ... had no legal authority to provide potable water to anyon e — it s authority in this regard being confined to the provision of bulk water or bulk infrastructure in respect of which there is/was no complaint — the municipality could not purport to exercise a power it did/does not have without, at the same time, breaking the law," it said in its application.
Koos Pretorius, a local farmer and director of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, said yesterday that there was still no potable water in the town.
This contradicts a statement Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa made after Judge Mavundla handed down his order on Tuesday of last week, that the water in the town was safe to drink for the first time in six months. The water had been polluted by acid mine drainage in mid-January.
Lawyers for Human Rights and the Legal Resources Centre, which represented the Federation for a Sustainable Environment and the Silobela Concerned Community, said that the situation in the town was "worsening".
Ms Molewa had not replied to requests for documentary evidence the town's water was clean.
The two legal entities, however, had copies of municipal water test results that showed the water was still outside South African acid-level standards.
"It is likely to cause diarrhoea and other symptoms....
"We have advised our clients not to drink the water until we see results that verify (Ms Molewa's) claim," the legal nongovernmental organisations said on Saturday.
Even if the water were clean, the municipality was only able to provide 2,2 megalitres (Ml ) a day. The town needed between 5Ml and 6Ml a day, they said.
Ms Molewa implicated BHP Billiton 's Union Colliery, a colliery operated by Xstrata Coal, Northern Coal's Mimosa Mine and a mine operated by Siphetha Coal in the pollution.
The two listed entities — BHP Billiton and Xstrata — have said they were co-operating with Ms Molewa and her department on the issue.
They denied responsibility for the pollution.