Millions intended to be spent on the health needs of Eastern Cape residents have gone missing from d.
Vusi Ndlovu and Namhla Tshisela
Residents of Phiri, Soweto, have vowed to continue their struggle against the installation of prepaid water meters despite a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling on Wednesday that partially favoured them.
Judgment by the court this week declared the meters unlawful and that the City of Joburg supply 42 litres of free basic water per person a day.
This followed an appeal by the city against a ruling by the Johannesburg high court last year declaring the installation of prepaid water meters and the supply of 50 litres-a-person unconstitutional.
The Coalition Against Water Privatisation, which represents Phiri residents, yesterday welcomed the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling but said it would fight for provision of more free water.
Coalition spokesperson Patrick Sindane said: "The ruling in Bloemfontein is a step forward. What we want is the total of 50 litres of water as in accordance with the World Health Organisation's standards."
Sindane said they would continue with "Vul'amanzi campaign", which was initiated in response to the council's "Operation Gcinamanzi", through which the prepaid water meters were installed.
The residents took the municipality to court demanding the scrapping of the prepaid meters.
They argued that the municipality's allocation of 6000 litres of free basic water a month, or 25 litres a person a day within a household of eight people was not enough.
The City of Joburg said it would reconsider its policies on the provision of free basic water following the supreme court judgment.
"In the light of the judgment, the city will reconsider and reformulate its existing policies on the provision of free water," said the municipality in a statement.
City spokesperson Gabu Tugwana said "indigent" residents could apply for free basic water allocation to be increased to 10000 litres a month or 50 litres of water a day to seven people in a household.
The installation of the meters was met with resistance by Soweto residents, with some ripping the devices off.
Last month residents wearing soiled and unwashed underwear over their clothes marched through Johannesburg streets demanding "free water for all".
Jackie Dugard, from the Centre of Applied Legal Studies, said while the meters remain unlawful, they will stay for now, but the council has been given two years to find an alternative.