Judgment in the Carolina water pollution case
The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) have welcomed the North Gauteng High Court's order compelling the Gert Sibande Municipality in Mpumalanga to provide temporary potable water to the residents of Silobela, Caropark and Carolina, within 72 hours.
The Federation for Sustainable Environment (FSE) and the Silobela Concerned Community, represented by the LRC and LHR respectively, had brought an urgent court application seeking a solution to their water woes.
In his ruling today, Judge Moses Mavundla also ordered the Acting Executive Mayor and the Municipal Manager of the Gert Sibande Municipality to engage "actively and meaningfully" with the FSE and the Silobela Community regarding the steps being taken to ensure that potable water can once again be supplied through the water supply services in Silobela, Caropark and Carolina.
Judge Mavundla also ordered the Municipality to report to the Court within one month of this court order as to measures that have been taken to ensure that potable water is supplied through the water services in the affected communities.
According to Emma Algotsson from Lawyers for Human Rights, "this judgment is an important step to address the huge problem of water pollution in Mpumalanga and ensuring that everyone has access to clean water."
"It is common cause that the water supply in Silobela and Carolina is contaminated by 'acid mine water' to an extent that it is not healthy for both human and animal consumption," Judge Mavundla said.
Koos Pretorius, the Director of the FSE said: "We are very satisfied we got what we asked for and they (municipality) must now consult with us and draw up a plan which will become a court order which will find a solution in the long term," he said.
Naseema Fakir, an attorney at the LRC said the residents of Carolina, Caropark and Silobela have not been communicated with and have not been included in the discussions on how to find a long term and sustainable solution to the water situation in Carolina.
"To date, they have also not been kept abreast with the temporary water supply either, this is why we had to ask the court to intervene. The municipality further failed to fulfil their own commitments about the delivery of water. If they had done so, this matter would never have come to court," she said.
Solly Mashinini, representative of the Silobela community, said that they are happy with the judgment and that they urge the Municipality to comply with the court order.