Advancing Farm Dweller’s Access to Water and Sanitation through the Courts

AFRA has brought a legal application against a number of land owners and municipalities in order to highlight local and district municipalities failure to provide farm dwellers and labour tenants with access to water, adequate sanitation and refuse collection, as well as their failure to prioritise the rights of occupiers and labour tenants in their Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).

After many years of attempting to secure access to basic services for farm dwellers, the Legal Resources Centre has prepared and filed a court application on these matters on behalf of affected farm dwellers and AFRA. There is an extensive legal and policy framework that substantiates the case, including those requiring municipalities to assist farm dwellers with prioritisation of their rights to access sufficient water, sanitation and collection of refuse in their IDPs.

AFRA has assisted nearly two hundred farm dwellers and labour tenants who claim they do not have access to basic services. In many cases, when they approach their municipalities to raise their concerns, municipal officials inform them that farm owners prevent them from gaining access to their farms, thereby obstructing them from providing basic municipal services to farm dwellers.

Through its application, AFRA is attempting to ensure that municipalities install a sufficient number of water user connections to supply a minimum quantity of portable water of 25 litres per person per day, at a minimum flow rate of not less than 10 litres per minute, and within 200 meters of each of household. In addition, municipalities must provide farm dwellers with access to basic sanitation by installing Ventilation Improved Pit (“the VIP”) toilets per household, and provide the collection of refuse.

The most basic services being demanded by farm dwellers and labour tenants have long been viewed as a basic human right by many South Africans. The absence of these services reflects how deeply prejudicial and harmful it is to continue treating farm dwellers and labour tenants as second-class citizens, voiceless and forgotten by those tasked to improve their lives in accordance with our Constitution.

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