Jozi to contest ruling on water

Kingdom Mabuza

Kingdom Mabuza

The City of Joburg will contest the Johannesburg high court ruling that has scrapped pre-paid water meters in Soweto.

The court has declared the system unlawful and unconstitutional.

Mayor Amos Masondo was seething with anger yesterday at a media briefing in Johannesburg, when he announced council's intention to challenge the matter.

He attacked Judge Moroa Tsoka's ruling and said he should not interfere with the responsibility of government.

"Judges are not above the law," he said. "We cannot have a situation where a judge wants to take over the role of government.

"Judges must limit their role to what they are supposed to do. If they want to run the country they must join political parties and contest elections. In that way they can assume responsibilities beyond their powers."

Masondo said the basis for council's appeal would be set out systematically in legal argument.

"We believe the judgment was distorted and would like to put our perspective on the matter," he said.

Masondo downplayed residents' opposition to the meter system.

He said: "The judgment followed a challenge of Operation Gcin'Amanzi by a small group of residents in Phiri."

He said the operation was the result of a request by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry to water services authorities, including the City of Johannesburg, to address the impending crisis around water usage in South Africa.

"The department calculated that further growth in Gauteng could not be sustained beyond 2014 if current habits and patterns of water usage continued."

Masondo said the council's investigation into water losses within its boundaries revealed that Soweto accounted for more than 60 percent of water losses, due largely to poor and ageing infrastructure.

He defended the system as an initiative to reduce water losses and promote water conservation, and to assist households with debt management.

In his judgment Judge Tsoka said the city took a discriminatory approach to the provision of water.

He said he could not understand why the meters were being forcibly installed only in black areas.

Phiri residents have resisted the system since its implementation three years ago.